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Monday, November 15, 2004

Thanksgiving, Wiggly Tooth & Orthodox Higher Education

We will be having Thanksgiving at Alexander's school on Thursday. We're bringing mashed potatoes. We will be having Thanksgiving at Dominic's school Monday, we will be bringing pumpkin rolls. We will be having the family over, Muellers, my mom and the Malchert branch of Rich's maternal side on the actual Thanksgiving, and will be making mashed potatoes, gravy, pies galore and pumpkin rolls. Everyone else is bringing the rest. We have three frozen turkeys in our big freezer, because they have been so cheap. I don't think we'll want to actually eat a turkey every again after three Thanksgiving meals in one week's time.

We're also having a leftover feeding frenzy at our house the day after Thanksgiving for our friends and church family. Bring your leftovers to share and come eat until you can't move. We'll have games, movies, and lots of food. We will go all day.

Speaking of big mouths, as of Thursday night, we have been able to see the big boy tooth growing in behind Alexander's loose tooth. It seems it will grow out before the loose tooth leaves his mouth. Like a shark. He very proudly is showing everyone the new grown up tooth wherever we go.

Since he is now fast approaching adulthood, with this new adult tooth on the way, I have been thinking about college/university options for our kids. Obviously, a long way off, but only 12 years from now at the same time.

So, this is a question I have: What Orthodox Christian Institutions of Higher Learning are there? Not limited to the Orthodox Church, but Christian Orthodoxy, any branch, any denomination. We have been looking at some secular schools which are rigorous and sound interesting and fun, and have a couple ideas about Christian schools, but are interested in what is out there. US only please.

Put a note in my comments with the name of the school, website, and why you think it should count as an orthodox college or university.

As for my knitting, I have been working on both the Cross Your Heart and Little Boy Green more lately, only to have Dominic ask about the progress on his stocking and realize I haven't done anything on it recently. So, I will be getting that out again. On smaller needles.

Talked to Becky about the photos from All Saints' and she said she should be able to have a CD to me by Sunday, so look for those photos then.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

You Like Pie

Upon being asked to define what was meant by pious, one of the elder members of CTV's Laudate group replied: You like pie. He did go on to give the correct definition, after some laughter. As he is a priest's son, he said he identified with many of the young saints we have been studying who were born to "poor and pious parents." We encouraged him to think of himself as halfway to sainthood, then.

I'd like to know why nobody finds my knitting, cooking, or family brag posts worthy of comment. I'm getting far more comments on my "political" remarks than on my other posts. This is disheartening.

In any case, I will get to them later. Right now, I have about an hour to myself. Rich took the older two boys out to ride their bikes, Elijah and Amira are asleep for their afternoon nap, and I have decided that since I have too little spare time, I will try to teach myself to crochet. It's going poorly.

I can chain, do single crochet, slip st, double crochet, but I can't actually figure out how to make it work in the patterns I have in front of me. Can someone who knows how to crochet tell me if this is possible:

Ch 8 sl st into first ch to form a ring.

Round 1 Ch 1, 15 sc in ring, sl first ch.

Doesn't this seem to use too many sts? Am I to do two sc in each ch? Is there an error in the pattern?

I thought I would start simple with a pair of baby sandals and a hat with a crocheted flower on it. This is the flower part. It's not looking good for me if I can't even get this figured out.

I have no pictures of any progress, still have no photos of Rich as John the Baptizer, nor of the boys in costume. I forgot to ask Becky for them last night, so I need to ask tomorrow at church if she can email them to me.

Our last St. Martha's Guild meeting went well. I finally made the blintz souffle, though I messed with the quantities a bit, more sour cream, more vanilla, more lemon juice. I served it with sour cream and raspberry jam. Quite delicious.

We had a good time of prayer and laughter and fellowship, as well as lots of great food and a time to work on our projects. Marthie is finished with two hats, and a pair of booties. Marilyn is pretty close to the sleeves on her husband's sweater, Sandy was working on a baby blanket, her daughter is expecting a new baby, and I was at least further up on the Cross Your Heart Gansey. I'm actually on the cabled yoke now. Kelly wasn't able to come until late into the meeting, as she had a class that Saturday morning, but she was a welcome surprise when we did see her. Neither Janice nor Rachelle were free that morning, but may be able to come to my house in December.

The CEC is having a ladies' conference in late April, and it looks like at least 5 of us from Christ the Victor are going on a road trip to attend. It will be held in Beaumont, CA, at a spa resort. Whee! Since all of us are pretty lead footed drivers, it will be interesting to see how long it takes us to get there. We have a home open to us to crash overnight at one of the women's in-laws on the way, should we get tired.

We did discuss having Rich fly us, Fr. Jonathan said he'd be willing to take the boys if we took Amira with us, and then Rich and I could have a room together with Amira, he'd spend time with her during the day, and the other ladies would have another room. The cost seems fairly prohibitive, though, and Rich and I thought it would probably be more fun for me to have a weekend with just the girls rather than with him at that point. Besides, road trips are always great for stories for years afterward.

Anyway, I will sign off now. I will try to post the photos as soon as possible, and get to the comments quickly.

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Friday, November 12, 2004

Comments Issue

I'm having trouble actually posting a comment on my own blog. Obviously, I am no expert at this.

So, to respond to two comments, one from Not Kristen and the other from Webhill, I will post this.

Webhill wrote in response to my CE/BCE post:

" Hey Ranee - it's Hillary :)
I just wanted to comment briefly on your remark about using CE/BCE instead of BC/AD. I was taught (a long time ago) that Jews use CE/BCE not because of any problem with measuring time by the existence of Christ, but because Christ is not in fact Our Lord, and it is hypocritical to use phrasing suggesting that he is. Talking about the Common Era instead of the Year of our Lord resolves that issue, is all, at least that's all for me. FWIW."

This is a very valid reason to do this. It makes sense to me. However, it still seems that it is BC and AD, just not Anno Domini, more like Anni Dominum (their Lord). The turning point is still the birth of Christ. In any case, I do remember as recently as 10 years ago CE and BCE being used commonly in my classics courses in college, and I thought it odd then. It seemed to me that there was a desire not to recognize the reason for the numbering of the dates, without actually doing away with them. A superficial naming that really had no purpose but to do away with the sense that our numbering of years actually has a religious basis.

Not Kristen! wrote in response to my Elephant in the Room post:

"Why are Democrats surprised? Well, considering that I have a great deal of trouble FINDING a non-Kerry supporter, it's not that surprising to me that Democrats are surprised.

(This is Kris from alt.newlywed, btw.)"

Maybe you need to move away from a blue city? I've seen a county by county results map which pretty clearly shows that the blue states aren't as blue as they seem, when it comes to the folks outside of the big cities. I also think there is a tendency on the part of conservatives to kind of hedge when discussing politics. Most people aren't as opinionated as I am online. Even I am not as opinionated in day to day conversation as I am online. It is kind of a dirty little secret to support our government (obviously not blindly, they are as full of faults as everyone else) anymore. I've read of people wearing "W" buttons in NYC and having people whisper to them that they agree, but weren't brave enough to wear a button and other such things.

I know it isn't popular to say or think this, but I also think part of it is the media's portrayal of America as mirroring the liberal politics of NYC, LA, et al. I think part of the big surprise among liberals is that most people in America aren't really on the political side of the news anchors and the editors of the NY Times. There is a presentation of liberalism as mainstream or moderate while at the same time portraying conservativism as extreme right-wing ideology. The media/popular culture presents the American public as liberal, AKA mainstream. I'm all for labels in the political realm. I don't mind being called right-wing, as a label of political affiliation, but I think that liberals ought to be labeled as liberals also. It's not Senator Feinstein and conservative Republican Senator Hutchison. It's either Senator and Senator or liberal Democrat Senator and conservative Republican Senator. Let's see some truth in labeling.

I am going to suggest this to you, based on some personal conversations we have had, take a look at some conservative commentary, Touchstone Magazine has some well thought out editorials and commentary. Their blog is also interesting, and they include letters from dissidents who criticize them. There are also some great ones written by people in the public square, who aren't necessarily journalists. Dawn Patrol is one, Cella's Review is another. These are largely from the Christian perspective, but there are many out there, some from Jewish writers, some from atheist writers, that are quite well reasoned. Whether one agrees with them or not is a whole other issue, of course.

Meanwhile I leave this article for other's perusal.

I'll try to end on a light note by highlighting this website. It's kind of a Christian version of the Onion.

Tragic Comment

Rich heard this at a business meeting yesterday morning. A grandfather, whose daughter and granddaughter live with him, was told by his daughter that he should stop picking his granddaughter up and holding her so much. The reason: the granddaughter was starting to ask for that kind of attention at her day care where they were too busy to do so.

No other comment is necessary.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

All Saints' Party

Although Sunday was actually All Hallow's Eve and not All Saints' Day, we celebrated All Saints' at church after the service.

We dressed as our favorite saints (some dressing as folks they wish were saints, but likely won't ever be canonized, since they are not Roman Catholic), played around with saint trivia and told the stories of the saints we represented. I was St. Barbara:

Rich's costume took the prize, though. He came as John the Baptizer. His costume was a mylar silver tray with a head hole cut out. He also had a table cloth, but I don't think he ever put it on. When I get pictures back of him, I'll post them. Our camera batteries died as Rich was taking a picture of the boys. We didn't try to dress them as saints, as they already had Halloween costumes, Dominic was Clifford, and Alexander was a butterfly. We did try to find a Saint something butterfly to make his costume resemble that, but the only one we found was brown and looked like a moth. We stuck with the new color scheme for the butterfly he requested (at first he wanted to be a monarch, he then decided to be blue and green), and were satisfied that butterflies are a symbol of the Resurrection. As soon as I get photos of them, I'll post those too.

Fr. Joe came as "Saint" Clive, it was a great costume, but sadly C.S. Lewis will likely never be canonized, unless the Anglican church gets into the business of canonization. The kids from the youth group did a good job at representing some of the saints we've covered in the series. That was gratifying. One of the boys said he had thought of coming as Dominic Savio, but couldn't think of any costume ideas except for a torn up Playboy. He didn't think his parents or the church would have appreciated that, nor did he think it a wise course of action for him to put those images in his mind as he was tearing them up.

We continued the festivities with one of Christ the Victor's celebrated feasts. The food was splendid, as usual. After we had our fill of good food and drink, we went upstairs and played old fashioned games. We had a game in which two sides took turns sending representatives to capture a ball that was placed in the middle. I didn't get to see all of this, so I'm not sure exactly what was going on, but the game ended when someone slid on the floor to get the ball and cracked her head on the floor. Ouch.

We moved on to missionaries and cannibals. The best move of that game was seeing Fr. Joe slide on the floor to get to the other side. I hope someone got a photo of that. Then there was a race between two people to eat a doughnut hanging from a string from the ceiling. Fr. Jonathan and his youngest daughter are forces to be reckoned with. Rich suggested that it was his work as an Army chaplain that fitted him so well to eating quickly in all circumstances. Our last game was bobbing for apples. Much head soaking and hilarity ensued. We apparently dropped the plan of a separate adult apple bobbing in sangria.

Sunday was also the day we began our dance lessons at church. Several couples lined up and Rich and I began with rumba and did a little bit of merengue. We had so much fun, and Rich and I look forward to continuing this.

All in all, it was a really fun day. We laughed a lot, ate a lot, learned a lot, played a lot, danced a lot. And we were home by 7:00 pm. Plans are being made for next year. One of the best ideas I got from Mere Comments: Ecumenical Saints on October 31 4:22 pm, about a pumpkin carving contest with a Christian theme. A couple of the better examples: C.S. Lewis, the three young men in the fiery furnace, as seen from the inside of the pumpkin. When I was in college we did this at our campus ministry, Alpha and Omega, the cross and such being some of the images we chose. I hope we see some of this creativity next year.


Wednesday, November 03, 2004

The Elephant in the Room

I have a lot to say about this weekend, our All Saints' party, dance lessons at church, the kids' costumes and more, but first I wanted to comment on the election.

I am amazed at how surprised the Democrats sincerely seem to be. I certainly didn't expect a landslide vote either way, nor did I think that Bush was a shoe-in, but it didn't surprise me at all that American voted as she did.

It seems to me that there is a liberal blind spot that doesn't see (or doesn't want to see) that morality matters to Americans. Not just morality, but life issues and family issues. Throughout the campaign, I grew more and more firm in my belief that the entire issue of the war was a smokescreen to somehow distract voters from the issues of abortion, embryonic stem cell research, human cloning, euthanasia and homosexual marriage. This on top of the appointment of supreme court justices in a time and political climate when legislation is being made from the bench, rather than the people.

The war is a moral issue, it is something which reasonable people can disagree on, and the way it has been handled can certainly be questioned. However, Kerry voted with Bush on Iraq and didn't have plans to pull out of the war. How is this truly different than what we have now? Just saying that you think something is bad doesn't change the fact that you voted for it, and essentially wrote the check to back it. The war wouldn't have been different under Kerry.

It is important to realize, though, that life issues take primacy in the moral economy. Touchstone's October editorial page (among many other publications and groups) addressed just this. See, First Things First for further discussion on this. There are no human rights without the basic right to life. Democrats do not understand that this really matters to most Americans. It perplexes them that people in my generation, women at that, are more conservative, pro-life and religious than our culture, upbringing and education would suggest.

This election brought forth amazing numbers at the polls. More young people voted, by a significant amount, more people in general voted. This seemed to signal to Democrats that Kerry would win. They do not understand that people are motivated by moral decisions. They do not understand that not all (or even most) women are liberal, nor that a young vote does not guarantee a Democrat vote.

Not only did Bush win decisively, but he made some records.

President Bush:

* Became the first President to be re-elected while gaining seats in the House and Senate since 1936 and the first Republican President since 1924 to be re-elected while re-electing Republican House and Senate majorities.

* Became the first President to win a majority of the popular vote since 1988.

*Received 57.4 million votes - more than any other candidate in history. He broke President Reagan's 1984 mark of 54.5 million. (96% reporting)

*Increased the popular vote by seven million votes since 2000 - more than twice Clinton's increase from 1992 to 1996.

*Improved his percentage in every state except four (MD, OR, VT and WY). This includes a four percent increase in John Kerry's home state, Massachusetts.

Many are trying to discredit this and say President Bush doesn't have a clear mandate. This is false. Not only did he win the popular and the electoral vote, but he did so with far greater turn out and plain numbers than any in recent history. He received more votes than any president in our history, and all at the same time as voters created a larger majority of Republicans in both houses of congress, voted to retain marriage as a one man one woman institution, and in many states changed the guard of their own congress to a more conservative one. In our state, we may actually have a Republican governor.

I keep hearing and reading that the liberals do not know how their candidate lost. They are looking for a broader candidate for the next election, they are looking for a candidate who is stronger on just about everything but the very thing Americans are looking for: namely, moral judgement. Kerry did himself a great disservice by saying that he couldn't vote his personal convictions. Even if we believe that is true, (which I don't, I think he does vote his convictions, it is that his convictions are not what he says they are), people elect representatives precisely because they want their views and beliefs enacted. They vote for the one they agree with the most. When someone says he can't vote what he believes or won't let us in on what he believes, we have no reason to vote for him. Touchstone has done a couple editorials on this theme. Both Unimposing Kerry and Show Us!address this better than I can.

There is an interesting comment from Janice Crouse of Concerned Women for America:

As the dust settles, we are beginning to see how heavily this election was influenced by concern about moral values. After a campaign focusing on the threat of terrorism and the war in Iraq, this development will surprise those from the Left - and Right - who dismissed moral issues and social conservatives as irrelevant. And, in fact, those who view the appeal to moral values as mere political manipulation and ideological posturing have a basic misunderstanding of people of faith and Main Street Americans. The moral values that were a top priority in this election - abortion, embryonic stem cell research, same sex unions, etc. - are values rooted in deep religious beliefs. In addition, at another level they are the values that form the basis of democracy - moral boundaries and personal responsibility, respect for life and human dignity, freedom, etc. - and are the essence of what it means to be American. President Bush embodies those values and, during his first term, put people and policies into place that supported those values. Further, there was no way that patriotic Americans would elect as president a person who betrayed his military buddies and trashed his nation's reputation. Nor would Americans choose as president a person who surrendered the nation's leadership in the world arena. Bush's strong, resolute stance on terrorism as well as his unwavering position on pro-life, pro-marriage and pro-family issues resonated with mainstream Americans. The Left has tried to portray these moral values as extremist; Americans have resoundingly said that these values are American.

Perhaps the new Democratic candidate should be stronger on moral values next time. This is the elephant in the room. This is the obvious difference in this election, yet I don't hear many on the liberal side treating it with any more significance than before.

I also think that the personal attacks lobbed by both Sen. Kerry and his wife to the Cheney family and the Bush family, especially as late in the campaign as they came, actually served to show their true colors and send more votes to Bush. I was beginning to get outraged about them, and Rich told me not to worry about it, those attacks just show the character of the people making them. Character does count.

I thought Sen. Kerry's concession speech was well done, considering the circumstances, but found Edward's speech to be primarily a divisive rally. I wondered why he found it necessary to say that the fight was on for, among others, the little child who doesn't know why people treat him differently, because of the color of his skin. Now, I suppose he could have just said, Republicans, Bush and those who voted for him are racists and we're not, but I guess that would have been divisive, and they are fighting that.

At first, I was annoyed that he used his concession time to rally supporters around a fight, but I have decided that he was being more honest than most people are. The only thing I dispute is that this is the beginning of the fight. This is a fight that has been coming for about 70 years, more aggressively in the last 40 years. Today's statement was the first open admission of it.

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