Thursday, December 27, 2007

Anne Rice: Supporter of Clinton

Here is an open letter from Anne Rice to her readers, found on her blog. In it she explains in a “soft voice” why she supports Hilary Clinton for President, even though Clinton believes in abortion as a woman’s right.

And here is a link to an equally soft-voiced response, written by Dr. Robert George, a professor of jurisprudence at Princeton University.

Rice has been a committed Christian since a few years ago when she returned to the faith. Ever since, she says nothing but Jesus Christ is worth writing about—faith, rather than the search for meaning, which is what she had always explored in her earlier novels. If you haven’t read her powerful novel Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, you must do so at once! When I first heard about the book, I was skeptical; I wrote this commentary about it.

The picture of Anne Rice comes from her web site, .

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Virgin Birth

The book of Luke tells us that the angel of God said to Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” And so she became pregnant with the baby Jesus.

Soon after that, Mary went to spend several months with her relative Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah, who lived in the hill country, some distance away. The angel had also told Mary that Elizabeth was six months pregnant; beyond the child-bearing age, Elizabeth had been unable to conceive until then.

As soon as Mary greeted Elizabeth, the baby in her womb, she said, “leaped for joy.” This baby, from the womb, recognized the Christ child in Mary’s womb. He was to be John the Baptist, who would prepare the way for the Messiah. The Holy Spirit within him saw the Christ and communicated joy to his spirit.

My friend and Sunday school teacher, whose name happens to be Mary, said this reaction of the unborn baby John to the unborn baby Jesus is a picture of what happens when we accept Christ. The Holy Spirit comes inside us to give us the mind of Christ so that we can discern truth. And so the Holy Spirit in us recognizes Jesus and causes our spirits to leap with joy.

On a previous Sunday morning, a man in our class said he wasn’t so sure all that was possible. Well…in human terms, it is not possible.

Do I believe God can do anything—that he is omnipotent? If my answer is “yes,” then how can I question a pregnancy that happened without human intercourse? How can I question the pregnancy of an old, barren woman? How can I question one unborn baby’s reaction to another unborn baby?

Luke 1:37 says, “For nothing is impossible with God.”

*The picture comes from

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Lonely at Christmas?

A few days ago, I heard on TV news that the Christmas holiday suicide rate is actually not the highest of the year, as we previously thought. According to recent research, December is the ninth on the list of months.*

That’s good news! Why, you may ask, would that be true? Here are some ideas from a suicide information web site:

--Gatherings of friends and relatives surround and protect vulnerable people.

--Christmas celebrations may evoke positive memories, hopefulness, and a renewed outlook for those in distress.

-- A growing awareness of community resource-type safety nets available especially during this period may bring hope and lessen despair, agencies like food banks, shelters, and outreach programs.

I think there’s a spirit of giving that rises and swells in our hearts this time of year. It makes us think of others, maybe more than ourselves. Maybe we are more prone to pay attention to other people with compassion, more willing to listen and give comfort. That’s how we’re meant to be—not buried in loneliness, but reaching out to others.

Stephen Burns, author of a Discipleship Journal article called “What’s a Lonely Person to Do?” says, “In my loneliness I had become unwittingly self-centered; everything revolved around me.” Through experiences with an elderly woman called “Aunty Lila” in his church, he learned that instead of being self-centered, he could have something to offer, to give comfort to others as he had been comforted.

He quotes 2 Corinthians 1:3-5--

“Praise be to . . . the Father of compassion and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.”

We are often lonely and feeling alone; we are strangers in the world. Sarah Davis writes, in a short sidebar story attached to Burns’s article, “In many ways, I feel loneliness exists to remind us we’re not at home in this life, to help us see that there is longing within all of us, and to drive us to the cross. The cross is a profound expression not only of sacrifice and salvation, but loneliness, too. So much of what makes us feel lonely is feeling that we are enduring alone, which Jesus did and He took our sin on Himself.”

Concluding the article, Burns acknowledges that all people feel lonely at times in their lives—it’s part of us. His prayer is this:

“In such seasons, may God give us the courage to open our hearts to those around us and to extend our hands to those who need us. Then, even when the times grow lonesome, we won’t be lonely.”

May these thoughts grow in our hearts this Christmas season and lead us to draw near to the Christ child, to be hopeful, to reach out to other people in love and compassion.

*August was found to have the highest incidence of suicide, and September, the lowest.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Denzel Washington: A Spiritual Life

This month’s Reader’s Digest features an interview with Denzel Washington. “For Denzel Washington, it’s not about fame and fortune.” says a banner at the top of the page, introducing the title. “It’s about ‘Keeping the Faith.’” The author is David Hochman.

I have always thought there was a special something about Denzel, and now I understand better what it is. He and his wife of 25 years, Pauletta, are devoted to God, to each other, and to their four children. He says he is definitely a spiritual person.

Hochman asked him, “Do you ever see a conflict in Hollywood, Godless Hollywood, as a spiritual person?”

Washington answered, “Well, wait a minute. Stop. That’s broad. Godless Hollywood? What is that? First of all, Hollywood is a part of Los Angeles, not a way of thinking. When you say Godless Hollywood, are you including me? Are you saying everybody in Hollywood is Godless? That’s like saying Godless Reader’s Digest. No such thing. Right?” War and violence and Godlessness occur everywhere, he said, “not just in Hollywood.”

When asked if his beliefs influence his acting roles, Washington said it is who he is and as such, it will be instilled in every part of his life. He said you can’t do life on your own. “He’s got you covered. My faith helps me understand that circumstances don’t dictate my happiness, my inner peace.” He reads the Bible every day; he’s on his second pass through the whole thing.

“What are you most proud of?” Hochman asked.

Washington’s answer: “God, family, work. When our children were born, I was like, my work used to be my life. Now my work is making a living. They’re life. My children are. So what I am proudest of is all of the above. In that order.”

Here’s a link to their site, where you can hear the interview, or at least part of it. The picture comes from the site.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Spiritual Formation--Hillary Clinton

The Christianity Today web site features an interesting article called “Hillary’s Spiritual Formation,” which explains the early spiritual development of Hillary Clinton. Here is a link to the site. The article, by Paul Kengor, is an excerpt from his book, God and Hillary Clinton: A Spiritual Life.

As responsible citizens, we need to find out all we can about the Presidential candidates so we can make an informed choice, come next November.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

E-Mail: Ecclesiastes

This is an interesting e-mail exchange I had with my friend Maxey after my two entries about Ecclesiastes, “Ecclesiastes: Futility” and “Ecclesiastes: Meaning and Purpose.”

Maxey wrote:

Your information about Ecclesiastes was very good. As a matter of fact, I read the book first period, while my freshman students were watching THE ODYSSEY. I have always enjoyed Chapter 3:1-8. I guess we do live in a world of checks and balances, the good and the bad, the positives and the negatives---hopefully with more good people than bad ones.

We must realize that all of us must accept the truth, fear the Lord, and be accountable for our actions. It's too bad that we must FEAR so often in order to act properly.

Will you please explain Chapter 10:19 (A feast...)? I don't understand the part about the money.

Judy wrote:

I looked up Ecclesiastes 10:19 in several different translations, and here is the one that seems most likely to me--it's the NIV Readers version:

People laugh at a dinner party.
And wine makes life happy.
People think money can buy everything.

So it's probably not that money actually is the answer to everything, but that people think it is. What do you think?

Maxey wrote:

I understand now. The verse deals with man's thoughts, not God's. We often resort to food, alcohol, and the lust for money as an escape and alleviation for mundane problems. Instead, all we have to do is follow God and His ways, for He is the answer to everything. Sounds simple, doesn't it?

Judy wrote:

Yes, it does sound pretty simple. If only we could wrap our minds around this simple truth!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Ecclesiastes: Meaning and Purpose

The second week of the study of Ecclesiastes in the Disciple Bible Study is different from the first. I feel much more comfortable with it. This week, we are asked to read it through the viewpoint of hope and love—through sure knowledge of the grace of God and faith in him through Jesus.

The assignment says this:

As we discovered last week, many people see only futility, even despair, in Ecclesiastes. Now, look for the good things in life. Look for the joys, modest though they may be.

The human condition statement in the lesson describes us accurately, as they do in all the lessons:

Only five more days till the weekend. Only eleven more months till vacation. Only twenty more years till retirement. We’re preparing. One of these days, we’ll be able to enjoy life.

The writer of Ecclesiastes began to see life as meaningless, because it will just end in death. He hit an existential void of sorts, letting himself get weighed down by Satan’s messages of cynicism, depression, heaviness of heart. He tried all kinds of things to see if he could find meaning and purpose to satisfy his heart—huge projects, wealth, possessions, women, pleasure, work. But it all ends in death, no matter what.

He realized that happiness is found only in knowing and loving God. Some of his important conclusions are these:

God has put eternity—a sense of it—in people’s hearts, so they are capable of knowing God. People can comprehend that even though human endeavors all eventually end, what God does lasts forever.

There is too much evil and oppression in the world. Even so, there is strength in our connection with others; “a cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

It is important to stand in awe of God, to seek wisdom, to avoid love of wealth. Joy comes from following him.

Whatever you do, he says, do it with all your heart.

Share with other people; “cast your bread upon the waters.” It will come back to you, multiplied.

Remember God all your life.

Just because God often connects things for me, I looked up today’s (Dec. 2) My Utmost for His Highest entry by Oswald Chambers, and sure enough, it ties in. Ecclesiastes is timely:

Christian perfection is not, and never can be, human perfection. Christian perfection is the perfection of a relationship with God that shows itself to be true even amid the seemingly unimportant aspects of human life. When you obey the call of Jesus Christ, the first thing that hits you is the pointlessness of the things you have to do. The next thought that strikes you is that other people seem to be living perfectly consistent lives. Such lives may leave you with the idea that God is unnecessary— that through your own human effort and devotion you can attain God’s standard for your life. In a fallen world this can never be done. I am called to live in such a perfect relationship with God that my life produces a yearning for God in the lives of others, not admiration for myself. Thoughts about myself hinder my usefulness to God. God’s purpose is not to perfect me to make me a trophy in His showcase; He is getting me to the place where He can use me. Let Him do what He wants.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Ecclesiastes: Futility

The Disciple Bible study, Under the Tree of Life, is the fourth in the Disciple series. This is my fourth year to participate with the group at my church, so I’m well engrained in the structure of it. Every time we read over some part of the Bible that we’ve studied before, I learn new things. Our group has grown very close, as we’ve studied, shared our concerns, and prayed together.

This week, we are reading Ecclesiastes; we’re reading it next week, too. This week, we are asked to read it with a pessimistic view, as if we didn’t know the hope of God through Christ, “from the perspective of futility.” Here is the assignment:

“Look for mystery, vain things, incongruities, ambivalence, irony, chance, punctured pride, injustice, tragedy, and death. Look at life as it really is. Consider your own death” (70).

Every week’s lesson gives us an assessment of the human condition that has us pretty well pegged. This week’s “Human Condition” is this:

“We live as if tomorrow were a sure thing. We accumulate. The next new experience, the next new possession—we gather them around us to distract us from the fact that nothing lasts. That we’re going to die” (70).

People who have been Christians for years need to remember how it was before they came to know God. They need to remember how it felt to be hopeless and to find life meaningless. I remember.

I find myself resistant to really getting into that perspective. I have vivid memories of that view of life, because I lived it for fifty years before I was rescued from myself by God. I really don’t want to re-live those feelings.

Wilke, Richard Byrd, and Julia Kitchens Wilke. Disciple: Under the Tree of Life Study Manual. Abingdon, 2001.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Thursday Thirteen: National Awareness Month of ...

Did you know that there are thirteen (or maybe fifteen) national awareness promotions designated for the month of November! There might even be others.

Red Ribbon Month

Drunk & Drugged Driving (3D) Prevention Month

Lung Cancer Awareness Month

American Diabetes Month

National COPD Awareness Month

National Hospice Month

National Novel Writing Month

National Marrow Awareness Month

National Family Caregivers Month

National Inspirational Role Models Month

National Alzheimer's Disease Month

National American Indian Heritage Month

National Adoption Month

Aviation History Month

Prematurity Awareness Month

Friday, November 02, 2007

Hungry and Needy

It is important to be present in every moment—to truly be there, not absent-minded or half-there because of distraction or worry. It’s easy to get that way because of a vague sense of being needy or bored or sick or fatigued, or a feeling that there somehow has to be more to life.

We do all kinds of things, trying to feel better, to fill up the emptiness. Eating too much is a feel-good activity that lots of us are into these days.

See this, for example, from a blog about overeating: "For some people, eating is a compulsion. Men and women of all ages force themselves to eat too much or too little, and suffer tremendous psychological pain when they do. Eating, body weight and image become an obsession that damages relationships and has serious medical consequences.

"Food addiction is a disorder characterized by preoccupation with food, the availability of food and the anticipation of pleasure from the ingestion of food."

But the good feelings don’t last, and that’s because only closeness to God gives that rich, satisfied feeling.

Overeating is not a sickness itself, but a symptom of sickness. The real sickness is isolation from God, a deeper-than-the-bones soul sickness. He satisfies “more than the richest feast.”

Psalm 63 says it well—David was in the wilderness, thirsty, lonely and needy:

O God, you are my God;
I earnestly search for you.
My soul thirsts for you;
my whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land
where there is no water.
I have seen you in your sanctuary
and gazed upon your power and glory.
Your unfailing love is better than life itself;
how I praise you!
I will praise you as long as I live,
lifting up my hands to you in prayer.
You satisfy me more than the richest feast.
I will praise you with songs of joy.

I lie awake thinking of you,
meditating on you through the night.
Because you are my helper,
I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you;
your strong right hand holds me securely.

The picture and quote come from ; the Bible passage is from

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A Last Visit

This is a picture of my mother, age 91 (on the right), and her sister, age 93.

I thank God that several of my cousins came and brought my aunt to see my mother in June, even if it was only for a few hours; we all had a very special time together.

My mother had been afraid she might never see her sister again, her last surviving sibling of a total of eight. My aunt had a stroke about two weeks after this picture was taken, and she died in September.

I believe God cares about our fears, our love for other people, and our need to see them.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Thursday Thirteen: How Well-Rounded Are You? A Quiz

How well-rounded are you? Here is a little quiz to test your knowledge on a variety of things. Answers are at the bottom—no cheating!

1. Who said “Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes”?

a. Mark Twain

b. Henry David Thoreau

c. Nathaniel Hawthorne

d. Paul Simon

2. Who worked in a family pencil factory?

a. Walt Whitman

b. Henry David Thoreau

c. Nathaniel Hawthorne

d. Emily Dickinson

3. Who invented the American novel of the sea?

a. Mark Twain

b. Edgar Allan Poe

c. Nathaniel Hawthorne

d. Herman Melville

4. Who said “Rebuke the devil and he will flee from you”?

a. the Bible: the book of James

b. the Bible: the book of Jude

c. Cotton Mather, Salem witch trials

d. Nathaniel Hawthorne

5. Who believed that, to be truly in tune with nature, we must become like a “transparent eyeball”?

a. Walt Whitman

b. Emily Dickinson

c. Ralph Waldo Emerson

d. William Cullen Bryant

6. Have the Texas Rangers ever played in the World Series?

a. no, never

b. yes, by the skin of their teeth in 1995

c. yes, in 1993

d. yes, in 1988

7. True or false? The moon is 1,974, 907 miles away from us.

8. True or false? The bright morning and evening stars are both Venus.

9. One of the favorite foods of Monarch butterflies is _____.

a. ragweed

b. milkweed

c. burberrry bush

d. mallowflowers

10. The first compilation of English property, the Domesday Book, was ordered by _____.

a. Frederick the Great

b. William the Conqueror

c. Alfred the Great

d. the Venerable Bede

11. The first English king to convert to Christianity was _____.

a. Hrothgar

b. Alfred

c. Aethelberht

d. Waelred

12. The “Bard of Avon” is a name commonly given to _____.

a. Petrarch

b. Shakespeare

c. Ben Jonson

d. Geoffrey Chaucer

13. Sir Thomas Malory wrote much of Morte Darthur , the first chronological collection of stories about King Arthur, while he was in _____.

a. Warwickshire

b. the English Lake District

c. love

d. jail

1. b; 2. b; 3. c; 4. a; 5. c; 6. a; 7. false; 8. true; 9. b; 10. b; 11. c; 12. b; 13. d

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Thursday Thirteen: Happy Stuff

Things that really make me happy, in no particular order!

1. chocolate chip cookies

2. hummingbirds

3. Vivaldi

4. Mozart

5. October weather

6. old movies I like, such as Tootsie

7. reading a good novel

8. reading the Bible

9. playing with my grandchildren

10. rain

11. going for a walk

12. hibiscus—pink ones and red ones

13. being with my family: In the picture up there at the top, that's me on the left, being silly with my daughter and my mother.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

A Callarmanian Love Theory

An October 8 Associated Press article says, “A lousy marriage might literally make you sick. Marital strife and other bad personal relationships can raise your risk for heart disease, researchers reported Monday.

“What it likely boils down to is stress (,) a well-known contributor to health problems, as well as a potential byproduct of troubled relationships, the scientists said.

“In a study of 9,011 British civil servants, most of them married, those with the worst close relationships were 34 percent more likely to have heart attacks or other heart trouble during 12 years of follow-up than those with good relationships. That included partners, close relatives and friends.

“The study, in Monday's Archives of Internal Medicine, follows previous research that has linked health problems with being single and having few close relationships. In the new study, researchers focused more on the quality of marriage and other important relationships.”

If we are being scientific about love, we must note that a Callarmanian theory posits these points:

· We were created by a loving God for a close love relationship with him.

· If we are not in a loving relationship with God, we are heartsick.

· We are weighed down by guilt, loneliness, feelings of inferiority, emptiness, and plain old unhappiness.

· These things ooch out into every corner of our lives, even the darkest ones.

· We feel stressed about life in general.

· We feel alone in the world, saddled with responsibilities beyond our ability to cope.

· We are mostly concerned about our own well-being.

· Sometimes we do despicable and harmful things in our efforts to find solace.

· God loves us and wants us to love him.

· But he is holy and perfect. No human is capable of perfect love.

· Through Jesus Christ, we are made acceptable to God.

· Jesus said what God mainly wants is for us to love him completely and to love other people.

· He can help us love him and through him to love others unselfishly.

· When our main concern is loving and pleasing God and then secondly loving and caring for others—including our spouse—we are more likely to be happy in “marriage and other important relationships.”

· Then our hearts will be healthier.

The heart is an original creation by my granddaughter.

Sunday, September 30, 2007


All right, class, the word for the day is hungry, and we might as well also take a look at its noun or verb form, hunger.

Now, we all know basically what that means. In fact, right now, I feel a bit hungry for a couple of brownies, the triple chocolate chunk kind; I like to throw in an extra handful or two of semi-sweet chocolate chips, for good measure. Maybe a cold glass of milk would be good, too.

According to Merriam-Webster, hungry means “characterized by hunger or increased appetite.” Okay, that’s probably the kind that would be fixed up by brownies.

On the other hand, a little different light is cast on this feeling when the verb or noun hunger is used. M-W says hunger is a “craving or urgent need for food or a specific nutrient; an uneasy sensation occasioned by the lack of food; a weakened condition brought about by prolonged lack of food.”

Near the border of Mexico live some of the hungriest children in the United States. They are fortunate if they have one meal a day, so their hunger seldom is satisfied. They suffer from chronic malnutrition, so they have a hard time concentrating on schoolwork. They know what it means to be hungry.

In many places along the border, especially in New Mexico, Arizona, and west of the Rio Grande valley in Texas, the land itself is hungry—not rich or fertile—barren.

Other meanings of the word hungry are “eager or avid (as for affection)—highly motivated (as ambition).” Hunger, again, is more intense; it means “a strong desire, a craving,” such as “a hunger for success.” We have also hunger of the spirit—a need for closeness to God.

Those children who suffer from desperate hunger along the Mexican border can’t worry much about feeling these other kinds of hunger. Physical hunger, in the sense they experience it, is a symptom of a basic survival need; those needs must be met before any other. That’s how God made us, so that we would survive.

I looked up hunger for the purpose of writing this blog entry. And I am amazed to see the resources Merriam-Webster has included on the definition page for the word. After the definitions, M-W has a list of organizations who help with world hunger, as well as physician-reviewed articles about it. For example, this paragraph from Healthline is part of a linked article there:

Hunger is the physiological drive to find and eat food. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), hunger is the world's major health risk. Globally, one in three people suffer from chronic hunger, which is a result of a lack of food security. Food insecurity means people do not have access at all times to nutritionally adequate food. There are three dimensions to food insecurity: a lack of (1) purchasing power (lack of money or resources), (2) accessibility (ability to get food), and (3) availability (amount of food). In the United States, hunger is caused by poverty, whereas in developing countries it is caused by poverty, war, civil unrest, or an undeveloped economy.

God tells us to feed the hungry, care for the poor. We could do much more to help than we do; we don't even have to deal with things like war, civil unrest, or an undeveloped economy. And America is covered up in food.

Oh, well, so much for a word study!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Thursday Thirteen--K.I.S.S.!

Have you ever noticed that we’ve become a nation of abbreviaters? We speak in initials and parts of words. Why? Maybe it’s because we are always in such a rush? Here are some of the most annoying ones I see often:

1. abs—This was the first one I ever noticed, about 15 years ago. On the front cover of a magazine—Redbook, I think—was a proclamation about developing your “abs.” What? Do I have abs? I couldn’t imagine what that was. For a few minutes I felt like I was in the twilight zone. (I need to develop mine.)

2. lol—I’m not sure why this annoys me. It just does. Maybe because it is so far from a real laugh.

3. lo-cost refi—Entirely too much refi is going on these days, so I guess it has become a household word.

4. e.d.—Well, maybe this is much more prevalent than I ever thought. Even Bob Dole proclaimed remedies for it.

5. i.b.s.—I heard this a couple of weeks ago. A friend said she was very concerned about her friend Charlie because he had severe i.b.s. What?

6. social—People in our school office can’t say the whole thing. When I need some information about a student, I am asked, “Okay, what’s his social?” Well, I don’t know, I want to say; I heard he likes to party on Thursday nights.

7. QEP—In our work we have the QEP, and it’s very important. I realized its importance a while before I ever figured out what it was: Quality Enhancement Program.

8. IE—Ditto IE, which is of high importance among colleges and universities, all of which are subject to strict re-accreditation standards: institutional effectiveness.

9. meds—Did you take your meds? What meds do you take? Keep the cost of your meds under control.

10. celebs—This is something people have gone nutty over today. In a recent TV interview with O.J. Simpson’s lawyer, a man stood beside the lawyer wearing a hat that said, “I love famous people!” He cheered for the lawyer every time he finished a sentence.

11. EPT—Long ago we used to call our diagnostic English Proficiency Test by these initials until it came to mean what it means now. We changed it to the BET (Basic English Test).

12. rep—Who is your insurance rep? Well, aren’t you concerned about your rep?

13. nunya!—That’s short for “none of your business.” Or maybe the more modern version is MYOB.

BTW, K.I.S.S.!!! (Do you know what that means? Or is that a local one?)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Fear Not.

Fear God . . . and fear nothing else.

--John Beckling

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Thursday Thirteen--#32

I am very concerned about the problem of pornography in our society. I have known several people whose lives have spiraled down into tragic circumstances as a direct result of their inability to stay away from it—including loss of careers, divorce, harm to children, and even death. Therefore, this is a list of thoughts about porn, much of it quoted from the Boundless Webzine, which features a number of articles by C. S. Lewis; the parts of this list that are in quotation marks come from that site.

1. Pornography offers fleeting false pleasure and temporary satisfaction to the spirits of those who are searching and empty.

2. By contrast, one can find lasting real pleasure and endless depths of fulfillment through spiritual intimacy with God.

3. Nearly fifty years ago, C. S. Lewis wrote “that men and women have an ‘ever-increasing appetite for ever-decreasing pleasure.’ Despite all the venues available for sexual expression, the deeper fulfillment we crave is growing even more elusive."

4. “Sex has become everything and nothing. The late Allan Bloom captured best the challenge Boundless readers face in a highly sexualized culture. In The Closing of the American Mind, he wrote:

5. There is a long road to adulthood, the condition in which they are able to govern themselves and be true mothers and fathers. This road is the serious part of education where instinct gives way to choice with regard to the true, the good and the beautiful. Puberty doesn't provide man, as it does other animals, with all that he needs to leave behind others of his kind.

6. This means that the animal part of his sexuality is intertwined in the most complex way with the higher reaches of his soul, which must inform the desires with insight.

7. “Boundless articles on sexuality seek to reconnect sex and the soul -- our desires with a love of the true, good and beautiful."

8. “We step into the confusion and disappointment of soulless sexuality with a vision for restored purpose and fulfillment for what our hearts crave."

9. “C.S. Lewis provides another illustration offering a clear distinction between the brief and counterfeit pleasures of pornography compared with the eternal and abundant promises of intimacy with God."

10. "‘We are half-hearted creatures,’ he says, ‘fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mudpies in the slums because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.’ "

11. “His next line is the clincher: ‘We are far too easily pleased.’"

12. “An image of a woman without her clothes creates sexual excitement, but disconnected from marital closeness, it fails to deliver the closeness and oneness that complement visual stimulation."

13. “Lewis paints a great word picture for this in Mere Christianity. ‘You must not isolate [sexual] pleasure and try to get it by itself,’ he says, ‘any more than you ought to try to get the pleasures of taste without swallowing and digesting, by chewing things and spitting them out again.’"

Pornography is destructive—and that’s an understatement. It degrades women, ruins lives, and makes a mockery of God’s beautiful plan, which intends for sex to be the highest expression of love between a man and a woman, in marriage.

The Boundless Webzine can be found at

Little, Girl and 23rd Psalm

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


And here are the two boys who caused such a hubbub two years ago (see the mamas in the previous entry)!

In this picture, they are watching "Thomas the Train." This is a little pacifier-sucking togetherness before bedtime. I think they were about 15 months old at this time.

The cute and perfect dark-haired grandson on the left is my daughter's and the cute and perfect brown-haired grandson is my son's. Grandchildren are some of God's best blessings--we have eight now.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Baby Time

My daughter (left) and my daughter-in-law had babies two days apart. That was in June, two years ago.

That was a wild time. They live two hundred miles apart. We were running like crazy, needing to be in both places.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A Hummingbird Story

1. This morning, my husband went out on the deck as usual to feed our wild cat that will have nothing to do with us other than eat our cat food.

2. He said, “Come look at this.”

3. I went out to see. Near one of our hummingbird feeders, a ruby-throated hummingbird was almost swinging back and forth, apparently flying.

4. Then it stopped and one little wing was pointing straight up. After a few seconds, it took off again, going nowhere but swinging back and forth.

5. We finally realized that its wing was caught in a spider web behind the feeder, stretching from the eave of the house to a large plant nearby.

6. Hmm, how to rescue a hummingbird from a spider web without injuring it or causing it to have a nervous breakdown?

7. My husband got hold of the web about six inches above the bird and pulled it away from the house. As soon as the web was broken, the hummingbird was freed.

8. It flew away as fast as it possibly could, with nary a peep of thanks.

9. We almost never go out on the deck early in the morning; we’re too busy getting ready for work. My husband usually sticks out his head and hand only far enough to dump out cat food.

10. God cared enough about that tiny hummingbird to get us outside on the deck to see its need. I think I see a little lesson here. If God cared that much about a bird, wouldn’t he likely be very concerned, caring, and loving about us, who are created in his image?

11. In Luke 12, I find two passages about birds; those who have ears, let them hear:

12. Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

13. Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

Sunday, September 09, 2007

All Things New

Watch this great YouTube video response to The Passion of the Christ by Brad Paisley and Sara Evans, New Again, at this linked site.

The movie The Passion of the Christ touched many people—and I believe the video New Again will, too. The song is the voice of Mary questioning the execution of her Son, who responds with an explanation.

My good friend Karen said she has the movie, but she hasn't watched it yet because she doesn't have the nerve to see it by herself. It is true that it's not easy to watch. I went to see it when it first came out. Actually, I saw it three times without really meaning to. My friend Carolyn wanted to see it, so we left our college office hours a little early one day to see it. Then my mother wanted to go, so I went with her. A few weeks later, I went with several other college instructors and five big football-player students; the young men were deeply moved by it.

Picture from

Friday, September 07, 2007

3:16--These Are the Numbers of Hope

God’s power works like (the) wind, Jesus explains. Newborn hearts are born of heaven. You can’t wish, earn, or create one.

This quote comes from Max Lucado’s new book 3:16—The Numbers of Hope.

You can read the first chapter at this linked site. Through this site, you can buy 3:16 things to download, sign up for weekly e-mails or text messages or RSS feed. You can connect to video so that you can either watch other people’s ideas about what 3:16 means to them or submit your own You-Tube videos about what it means to you.

On the 3:16 site, you can read these life-changing words in English, Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, or German:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Thursday Thirteen--Ah, Smells!

These are some more of my favorite smells! (Here's a list I made of other smells, quite a few Thursday Thirteens ago.)

1. crushed leaves or buds from a videx bush

2. baby powder

3. puppy breath

4. steaks on an outdoor cooker

5. Girl Scout stew, cooked on a campfire

6. sautéing onions, peppers, and celery

7. lemon juice

8. freshly cut grass

9. burning leaves

10. antique roses (not hybrid roses)

11. apples

12. vanilla

13. And one of the very richest and best: leaf mold/compost piles

In honor of that smell, read this marvelous poem by Walt Whitman:

This Compost
by Walt Whitman

Something startles me where I thought I was safest,
I withdraw from the still woods I loved,
I will not go now on the pastures to walk,
I will not strip the clothes from my body to meet my lover the sea,
I will not touch my flesh to the earth as to other flesh to renew me.

O how can it be that the ground itself does not sicken?
How can you be alive you growths of spring? How can you furnish health you blodd of herbs, roots, orchards, grain?
Are they not continually putting distemper'd corpses within you?
Is not every continent work'd over and over with sour dead?

Where have you disposed of their carcasses?
Those drunkards and gluttons of so many generations?
Where have you drawn off all the foul liquid and meat?
I do not see any of it upon you to-day, or perhaps I am deceiv'd,
I will run a furrow with my plough, I will press my spade through the sod and turn it up underneath,
I am sure I shall expose some of the foul meat.
Behold this compost! behold it well!
Perhaps every mite has once form'd part of a sick person; yet behold!
The grass of spring covers the prairies,
The bean bursts noiselessly through the mould in the garden,
The delicate spear of the onion pierces upward,
The apple-buds cluster together on the apple-branches,
The resurrection of the wheat appears with pale visage out of its graves,
The tinge awardes over the willow-tree and the mulberry-tree,
The he-birds carol mornings and evenings while the she-birds sit on their nests,
The young of poultry break through the hatche'd eggs,
The new-born of animals appear, the calf is dropt from the cow, the colt from the mare,
Out of its little hill faithfully rise the potato's dark green leaves,
Out of its hill rises the yellow maize-stalk, the lilacs bloom in the doooryards,
The summer growth is innocent and disdainful above all those strata of sour dead.

What chemistry!
That the winds are really not infectious,
That this is no cheat, this transparent green-wash of the sea which is so amorous after me,
That it is safe to allow it to lick my naked body all over with its tongues,
That it will not endanger me with the fevers that have deposited themselves in it,
That all is clean forever and forever,
That the cool drink from the well tastes so good,
That the blackberries are so flavorous and juicy,
That the fruits of the apple-orchard and the orange-orchard, that melons, grapes, peaches, plums, will none of them poison me,
That when I recline on the grass I do not catch any disease,
Though probably every spear of grass rises out of what was once a catching disease.

Now I am terrified at the Earth, it is that calm and patient,
It grows such sweet things out of such corruptions,
It turns harmless and stainless on its axis, with such endless successions of diseas'd corpses,
It distills such exquisite winds out of such infused fetor,
It renews with such unwitting looks its prodigal, annual, sumptuous crops,
It gives such divine materials to men, and accepts such leavings from them at last.

Poem from

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Needing the Shepherd

Through my pneumonia haze, I tried to remember the 23rd Psalm, but this is as far as I could get: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.”

That was enough. I thought and thought about it, and it helped me get through that bad time at the first of August when I spent five days in the hospital. It gave me hope and comfort.

I pictured myself as a sheep—a sick, straggly one needing my shepherd to get me to a place where I could get well, a place with green grass to eat and good sweet water to drink. A sheep isn’t very smart, but he knows enough to comprehend his dependence on the shepherd. He knows the shepherd cares about him and will make sure he gets to a place of sanctuary.

God provides all I need. He restores my soul while he heals my body.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Thursday Thirteen: King/Jenkins Story-Writing Tips

Some good suggestions from Stephen King and Jerry Jenkins for wannabe story writers:

1. Have a strong beginning, with action such as “The gun fell to the floor.”

2. . . . or some little mysterious something such as “The first time she saw the shadow at the window, she regretted what she had done.”

3. Don’t spend several pages or even paragraphs describing the setting—get right to the action. You know how we are—instant-gratification seekers.

4. Don’t begin by having your hero wake up to the alarm clock.

5. Instead, start in the middle of things.

6. Then you can go back and fill us in later, if you want to.

7. Don’t say your hero looks (or happens to look) into a mirror and then describe what he sees. They say that’s just as corny and passé as having him wake up to an alarm clock.

8. Don’t say something like “’Don’t do it!’ exclaimed Fred.” “Exclaimed” isn’t necessary because, after all, you see the exclamation point there. Instead, say “’Just think about it!” said Fred. (Well, actually, they say it’s better not to use exclamation points because that’s kind of overboard. It’s better to just leave the exclaiming to the imagination of the reader.)

9. The same thing goes for questions: no need to say “Jane asked, ‘Will you go with me?’” Because the question mark shows the question. They say you should just say “Jane said, ‘Will you help me?’”

10. And . . . they say it’s best not to go with words like “she whispered, yelled, retorted, or countered” but just to use “said.” You can show whispered, etc., in the context: “her whisper was as raspy as the hinge on the back gate.”

11. You should know your characters very well, even if you don’t use all the details about them. Knowing your heroine will help you understand how she would respond in certain situations. Can we identify with her?

12. Conflict is important. Create your character and slap her up against some trouble.

13. Know her so well that you can just sit back and watch her go from situation to situation—and write it down as she does it. Jenkins and King both said their characters sometimes do things they didn’t plan for.

Once when one of his major characters died suddenly, Jenkins’s editor said, “I didn’t know you were going to kill her off.”

Jenkins said, “I didn’t mean to. She just up and died on me.”

My comments work now, thanks to the help of Mr. Linky.

Monday, August 27, 2007


My friend M. said his sister died on May 23. She had suffered for a long time with cancer. He said she was devoted to God and she was not angry. I didn’t know her, although I have prayed for her.

M. said, “I don't understand why someone as devout and compassionate as she was had to die the way she did.” I don’t understand that, either. I don’t understand why God heals some people’s sicknesses and not others.

Maybe that’s one of those things we won’t be able to comprehend in this life. I’ve added that to the list of questions I want to ask Jesus one day.

In the ninth chapter of the book of John, John writes that Jesus and his disciples encountered a man who was born blind.

The disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

Jesus said that neither of the man’s parents was to blame. “But this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” Then Jesus made some mud of dirt and spit, put it on the man’s eyes, and told him to go wash off the mud in the Pool of Siloam. He did as Jesus said, and afterward, he could see, for the first time in his life.

The man was pestered by the Pharisees about what happened, and they finally tried to get him to confess that Jesus was a sinner.

The man could not be bullied into agreeing with the Pharisees. He declared, “One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”

The work of God was displayed in his life, as Jesus said—this miracle showed the power of Jesus to heal physically, as well as spiritually, as we can see in his statement of blind faith. His statement “I was blind but now I see” became a powerful metaphor for spiritual healing and restoration of the soul.

M.’s sister’s body was not healed, as the blind man was. But she must have experienced the tremendous power of Jesus to heal her spirit. Maybe she was an amazing example to someone who really needed to see that his spirit could be made whole. From what I know of her, I believe the work of God was displayed in her life. She was not blind--she could see.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Thursday Thirteen: Cliches

I try to convince my college writing students that they should avoid using clichés. Here are some of the most common and most distasteful:

1. dry as a bone

2. cold as a wedge (what’s a wedge?)

3. simple as pie

4. dumb as a stump

5. dead as a doorknob

6. sitting in clover

7. a no-brainer

8. pull the plug

9. throw caution to the wind

10. keep body and soul together

11. never a dull moment

12. teach an old dog new tricks

13. and . . . (please, NO!) . . . be there for somebody

Jerry B. Jenkins, author of the Left Behind series, says writers must use original language; avoid clichés like the plague!!!

I have discovered that my comment thing doesn't work! So if you'd like to leave a link to your site and/or a comment, please send it to me at this e-mail address, and I'll add it through editing:

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Baby Grabs Camera

Here is one of my favorite pictures of our latest granddaughter, being grabby.

Since I last posted to this blog on July 26, I have been very much waylaid.

We went vacationing with our daughter and four grandchildren. Our grandson had a coughing bug, and since we were all in very close quarters, we all caught it. We came home and the next weekend, thinking I was getting better, I went off to a literary conference.

By the time I got home, I was sick as a dog, coughing constantly. So that Monday, I went to the doctor and discovered that I had pneumonia. After five days in the hospital and two weeks of lying around, I am finally on the mend, thank the Lord!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Facing Death

I just read a very moving article by Tony Snow, press secretary for the Bush administration. In March of this year, doctors discovered that his abdominal cancer had returned, and he had surgery. Christianity Today asked him what spiritual observations he had concerning this time.
He wrote this, in part. (Read all of it at this linked site.)

Those of us with potentially fatal diseases—and there are millions in America today—find ourselves in the odd position of coping with our mortality while trying to fathom God's will. Although it would be the height of presumption to declare with confidence What It All Means, Scripture provides powerful hints and consolations.

The first is that we shouldn't spend too much time trying to answer the why questions: Why me? Why must people suffer? Why can't someone else get sick? We can't answer such things, and the questions themselves often are designed more to express our anguish than to solicit an answer.

I don't know why I have cancer, and I don't much care. It is what it is—a plain and indisputable fact. Yet even while staring into a mirror darkly, great and stunning truths begin to take shape. Our maladies define a central feature of our existence: We are fallen. We are imperfect. Our bodies give out.

But despite this—because of it—God offers the possibility of salvation and grace. We don't know how the narrative of our lives will end, but we get to choose how to use the interval between now and the moment we meet our Creator face-to-face.

Second, we need to get past the anxiety. The mere thought of dying can send adrenaline flooding through your system. A dizzy, unfocused panic seizes you. Your heart thumps; your head swims. You think of nothingness and swoon. You fear partings; you worry about the impact on family and friends. You fidget and get nowhere.

To regain footing, remember that we were born not into death, but into life—and that the journey continues after we have finished our days on this earth. We accept this on faith, but that faith is nourished by a conviction that stirs even within many nonbelieving hearts—an intuition that the gift of life, once given, cannot be taken away. Those who have been stricken enjoy the special privilege of being able to fight with their might, main, and faith to live—fully, richly, exuberantly—no matter how their days may be numbered.

Third, we can open our eyes and hearts. God relishes surprise. We want lives of simple, predictable ease—smooth, even trails as far as the eye can see—but God likes to go off-road. He provokes us with twists and turns. He places us in predicaments that seem to defy our endurance and comprehension—and yet don't. By his love and grace, we persevere. The challenges that make our hearts leap and stomachs churn invariably strengthen our faith and grant measures of wisdom and joy we would not experience otherwise. . . .

There's another kind of response, although usually short-lived—an inexplicable shudder of excitement, as if a clarifying moment of calamity has swept away everything trivial and tinny, and placed before us the challenge of important questions. . . .

Finally, we can let love change everything. When Jesus was faced with the prospect of crucifixion, he grieved not for himself, but for us. He cried for Jerusalem before entering the holy city. From the Cross, he took on the cumulative burden of human sin and weakness, and begged for forgiveness on our behalf.

We get repeated chances to learn that life is not about us—that we acquire purpose and satisfaction by sharing in God's love for others. Sickness gets us partway there. It reminds us of our limitations and dependence. But it also gives us a chance to serve the healthy. A minister friend of mine observes that people suffering grave afflictions often acquire the faith of two people, while loved ones accept the burden of two people's worries and fears.

Monday, July 16, 2007

A Snake Story

A few months ago, we noticed our calico cat Berry was acting strangely; she was sitting very still except for her tail, which she twitched excitedly. We discovered that she was focused on a large rattlesnake curled up next to a pot of ivy on our deck.

It was a stand-off. She stayed about fifteen feet away from the snake. It was raised up in the striking position and its rattles were buzzing a soft warning to her.

We are always prepared for snakes, since we live several miles out of town. Usually, though, we see copperheads. This rattlesnake was kind enough to wait while my husband loaded his shotgun and went out to get a bead on its head.

“Do you care if I destroy your flower pot?” he asked me. I assured him I would gladly sacrifice the pot to get rid of the snake.

His dead-eye aim proved accurate, and he blew its head off. It writhed around for about thirty minutes, a gruesome sight. I took the picture after it finally decided to be dead. The snake had nine rattles.

The flower pot survived, but the deck has a dent in it.

The National Geographic web site has an interesting snake feature, at this linked site. You’ll see a fascinating photo essay with enough scary snakes to make you want to look under your chair.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Stephen King: On Writing

I don’t ordinarily read Stephen King’s books—don’t care anything about the horror genre. However, this summer, I am making a study of writing. So I fell into his book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.

The first part of the book is an entertaining autobiographical account of how he got into his writing. He was a constant watcher and reader of horror movies and books from his earliest days; so it isn’t something he just stumbled into when he grew up. He started writing those scary stories when he was just a child, and his first published work was a novella “in a horror fanzine issued by Mike Garrett of Birmingham, Alabama.” The title of the story was “I Was a Teen-Age Graverobber.” Yikes!

In the second half of the book, King gives very straightforward, practical advice for budding writers. Here are some of his best pointers:

  • Don’t get a huge desk that you place in the center of a room, he says. Put a small one “in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind your self why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support-system for art. It’s the other way around.” Don’t abandon your life. Live it; then if you pay close attention, you will recognize good subjects when they show up.
  • The “bread of writing is vocabulary.” It’s your most common tool, so keep it handy. Don’t “make any conscious effort to improve it” because if you do, it will become stilted, and it won’t sound like you.
  • Read constantly, whenever you aren’t writing. Your handle on the language will improve, and your vocabulary will improve without your having to work at it.
  • If you aren’t good at grammar, you need to be. A good help is Warriner’s English Grammar and Composition; “. . .almost all you need is summarized on the front and back endpapers of the book.” A great style manual is Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style.
  • Avoid adverbs, the passive voice in verbs, and any kind of “dialogue attribution” other than “said.” “Do as well as you can,” he said, “and remember that, while to write adverbs is human, to write he said or she said is divine.”
  • Don’t be overwhelmingly wordy.

If you want to be a writer, he says, you have to be seriously committed to it. Stephen King says he writes about 2,000 words a day. He is willing to let us get away with 1,000 words a day, and he will let us have Sunday off. This is a concrete goal, which we need.

Write about whatever you want to; “anything at all . . . as long as you tell the truth.” By truth, he means the things the heart knows. He says, “The job of fiction is to find the truth inside the story’s web of lies, not to commit intellectual dishonesty in the hunt for the buck.” People want to read stories in which they recognize themselves, in which they hear “strong echoes of (their own lives) and beliefs.”

Somehow, King gives me confidence that maybe I can improve my writing. What I have been lacking is the serious commitment part. I’ve been the one who takes care of every other little problem first and then I get around to writing, if there’s still time. I hereby commit myself to write at least 1,000 words every day . . . well, lots of days, anyway. King says there’s a sort of “redemptive power of writing that I had long felt but never articulated.” I think he is right.

*The picture comes from

Thursday Thirteen: Books a Wanna-Be Writer Needs

Thirteen great books that should be on the shelves of people who want to be writers:

1. The Bible

2. A concordance so you can find what you’re looking for

3. A big, fat dictionary

4. A thesaurus that’s almost as fat

5. Strunk & White’s Elements of Style

6. William Zinsser’s On Writing Well, the 30th anniversary edition

7. Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

8. Eudora Welty’s One Writer’s Beginnings

9. Zinsser’s Writing about Your Life: A Journey into the Past

10. Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones

11. Jerry Jenkins’s Writing for the Soul

And then about a hundred wonderful books that you love, for example, these and/or many that are like the kinds of things you want to write:

12. Elie Wiesel’s Night

13. Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Do This in Remembrance of Me

I just got home from the last session of the Bible study I’ve been in this year—lesson 32 of Disciple 3: Remember Who You Are. It was a wonderful study, the best yet of the Disciple series.

We had a covered dish dinner and then we did our lesson. After we finished talking about the readings for this week, we had communion together, using a beautiful handmade chalice and dish, grape juice, and a small loaf of homemade bread. We had communion by intinction which is explained at this very good linked site, in case you want to read about it (scroll down, down); to do that, we took a pinch of bread and dipped it into the juice.

Our pastor’s wife made the communion cup and plate on a potter’s wheel, using lumps of clay. She made the colors herself, experimenting until she got them just right, so that after they were fired in the kiln, they would look the way she wanted them to look.

The inside of the chalice is dark red, exactly the shade of red grape juice or wine. On the outside, the dark red appears spilled down the side, and it fades into a lighter shade of the same color. The deep red becomes a light wheat color. Then the bottom of the cup is blue, the shade of the deepest sky blue.

To me, the red symbolizes the blood of Christ held in the chalice and the “wheat” shade, his body in the bread. In communion, we remember. We pledge ourselves again to love him, to live our lives for him.

I always think of Jesus offering the cup to his disciples, saying “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” He told them, “Do this in remembrance of me.”

What is the new covenant? It was the new agreement instituted by God through Jesus that people would no longer have to engage in animal sacrifice to have their sins forgiven. Jesus would be the ultimate sacrifice, given by God, for the forgiveness of human sin. It’s a marvelous, no-strings-attached gift to us.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

And It's . . . Coulter vs. Edwards

Wednesday, Elizabeth Edwards, wife of Presidential candidate John Edwards, telephoned Ann Coulter to ask her to stop her rhetoric of anger and hate—to “raise the level of political discourse in America above personal attacks.” Of course, Coulter refused and responded with more personal attacks.

Coulter is part of an alarmingly large segment of America today, a group that includes people like Rosie O'Donnell, as well as Rush Limbaugh and other “hate radio” talk show hosts. A large number of listeners pay attention; I'm sure many agree with these speakers, but probably just as many are merely entertained by watching a good fight. Apparently audiences loved seeing Rosie O'Donnell go head-to-head with Donald Trump and others. It's like a pseudo-intellectual version of a wrestling match; instead of clever twists and arm-holds, it uses loud, mean-spirited, personally injurious dialogue.

No, “dialogue” is not the correct word. By Merriam-Webster’s definition, a dialogue is “an exchange of ideas and opinions,” a discussion aimed at resolution of a problem. In the Coulter-type dialogue, the objective is to out-shout the other, to outwit him or her with the most hurtful barb, to defeat. Heightened adrenalin gives a satisfying rush. Nothing constructive or positive comes from this kind of “dialogue.” It is a down-and-dirty way of bashing ideas around, and as such, it lowers the level of political discourse, as Elizabeth Edwards said.

If we are really concerned about the direction America should go, I believe we must engage in true, rational discussion. We must try to solve problems instead of shooting each other with flaming arrows. Some people are busily trying to rid the airways of hate radio, as I found on this linked web site. Maybe it’s a good idea, but we have to be careful not to become hate-mongers ourselves in the effort!

Elizabeth Edwards should not have let herself be drawn into a harangue with Ann Coulter; that’s just the thing Coulter would most like, to fuel her fires. Why did she do it? This linked article gives Edwards’s explanation:

On Wednesday, the Edwards campaign sent out a letter to supporters written by Elizabeth which explained "why I called Ann Coulter."

"Last night I had an important talk with Ann Coulter and I want to tell you what happened," Elizabeth Edwards wrote. "On Monday, Ann announced that instead of using more homophobic slurs to attack John, she will just wish that John had been ‘killed in a terrorist assassination plot.’”

The letter continues, "Where I am from, when someone does something that displeases you, you politely ask them to stop. So when I heard Ann was going to be on 'Hardball' last night, I decided to call in and ask her to engage on the issues and stop the personal attacks. I told her these kinds of personal attacks lower our political dialogue at precisely the time when we need to raise it, and set a bad example for our children."

"How did she respond?" Edwards writes. "Sadly, perhaps predictably, with more personal attacks. John's campaign is about the issues—but pundits like Ann Coulter are trying to shout him down. If they will not stop, it is up to us cut through the noise."