Sunday, April 29, 2007

What's in a Name?

In the western movie Open Range, Robert Duvall (“Boss”) and Kevin Costner (“Charley”) have a serious conversation just before they are to confront a murderous gang. Charley wants to know Boss’s name; he has worked for the boss for ten years but has never known his name. Now that they may die together, Charley insists that they exchange names. It’s important.

Charley goes first, saying his name is something like Charles Hiram Postlewaite. “Okay,” he says, “what’s your name?”

After some prodding, Boss confesses that it is “Bluebonnet Spearman”—no middle name, nothing else. He swears Charley to secrecy, never to tell anyone, and they shake hands. This is a hilarious, solemn moment, just before the big gun battle, but Charley does not crack a smile. He needed to know, just in case.

For some reason, we need to know people’s names. Our name is an intimate part of who we are.

My parents named me Judith Ann, but all my life, I’ve been called “Judy.” When I was a child, back in the dark ages, there were plenty of Judys, but nobody went by “Judith.” It was thought to be very formal. But now, I hardly ever run across another Judy, only “Judith.” I found a web site, linked here, that says 448,037 people in the United States are named Judith. (Hmmm, whatever that’s worth?!)

Names are important in the Bible. In 2 Chronicles 7:14, God says to Solomon, “ . . . if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Those who are called by his name are like the sheep of his flock. He knows his sheep, and they know him. Jesus said, in John 10:3-4, “He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.”

He calls us by name—Karen, John, Marlaina, Angel, Jan, Maxey, Jim, Rhyan. He knew our names before we were born. He knows who we are and where we are and what we think, feel, and intend. He wants us to be his sheep, called by his name.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Thursday Thirteen: Bill Maher

Tuesday night on the MSNBC nightly news show, Scarborough Country, Joe Scarborough interviewed Bill Maher. Maher said he is making a documentary in which he trashes God and Christianity, indeed, all religion. He said religion is destructive and a myth.

Here is a linked article by Cindy Adams, telling all about it. She says Maher is a bad, bad boy.

And here is another linked article by Jim Brown—a little different attitude about it.

Joe Scarborough asked Maher, “Do you believe in God?” Maher wouldn’t say “no.” He stalled a little bit and then said he is something like an “apatheticist.” In other words, he thinks there may be some higher force.

But, he said, it isn’t God and it isn’t human.

The important thing, he said, is to mainly be good, for the sake of being good.

He said Christians are all out for salvation, to save their own personal hides.

Scarborough pointed out that Jesus said the important thing is to take care of the poor, the needy, the sick.

Maher answered, yes, that’s in there; he has read it. But the big important thing is salvation, and that’s selfish, in his opinion.

It seems to me that I can’t get into an argument with somebody like him. His mind is made up and all arguments have the effect of making him talk louder and be more defensive. So what can I do?

I think the more important thing to do with somebody like that is to show him God’s love by loving him (and others like him) unconditionally. And it’s important to show them by caring for the needy, not just in words but in action and in truth, not just talk about it.

The Bible, in First John 3, says we should act right and we should love other people: “Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.”

We don’t have to browbeat people, but just tell them what God has done for us. We can tell them how he has changed our hearts and made us a new creation.

How do we know? Because of God’s Spirit that he gives us.

Monday, April 23, 2007


O how I love April and May in the Southwest—and just about anywhere else!

Everything shouts God’s glory in bright colors, wind, rain, thunder, wildflowers, colts, cobalt sky. It always makes me think of the poem “Pied Beauty” by a nineteenth-century British poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins—a celebration of the wonderful variety of creation. Here it is:

Pied Beauty

GLORY be to God for dappled things—

For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;

For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;

Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;

Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough; 5

And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;

Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)

With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;

He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change: 10

Praise him.

*The poem and picture are from this linked Bartelby site.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Thursday Thirteen: Virginia Tech

I pray . . .

for the families of the people killed at Virginia Tech. Their hearts must be aching with terrible grief.

for the survivors of the attack. I pray that they will be healed, physically and spiritually.

that they won’t go through the rest of their lives traumatized.

for the administration, faculty, and staff of Virginia Tech as they make decisions about the school’s future.

that they will not blame themselves for the young man’s actions. It’s easy to make judgments based on hindsight.

that students will have the courage and determination to start back to classes on Monday and to finish these last few weeks of the semester.

for the shooter’s parents, that people won’t try to harm them. They must be suffering terribly. I can’t begin to imagine how it would be to learn that my child had done such a thing.

for all the rest of us, that we may comfort those we can see are hurting, and that we will truly and deeply care about other people.

that we will have compassion and reach out when we see someone who seems completely isolated like the shooter was for several years.

that we can understand that maybe nothing anybody could have done would have helped him—or maybe it would have.

that we might learn to open ourselves to God’s loving call rather than closing up within ourselves.

that we may learn to love God and other people. That we might give love freely, without too much concern about whether we get it back in suitable amounts.

and that many other people will join me in these concerns.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Maybe Not Falling through the Cracks

On Sunday, I wrote a somewhat scalding diatribe about divorced parents who don’t care enough about their children to see that they are loved and cared for in spite of a divorce. Even if the marriage falls apart, I said, the parents must not let their children fall through the (wide) cracks. That’s their elemental, absolute, rock-bottom first responsibility.

I said, too, that “I know some people who have done that.” A number of folks have been praying for this situation.

Well, prayer has been answered!! The people changed their minds about their big move because they realized that the children were their first priority. The divorce is still in place, but both parents will BE THERE FOR* the children. Prayer is powerful.

Thank you, Jesus.

O frabjous day! Callou! Callay!

*Be there for: As an English teacher, I dislike this inane phrase, and I often tell my students not to use it in formal writing. What does it mean, really? Well, maybe that will be the subject of another entry.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Falling through the Cracks

I have a question.

Why is it okay with so many people if parents, in effect, ditch their children when they get a divorce? I know some people who have done that. The children have fallen through the cracks, victims of their parents’ so-called personal needs for happiness.

It seems to me that when you have children, they should automatically rocket to first place in your priorities. They are very small and vulnerable and are totally dependent on their parents. How could anybody cast them aside, not caring what happens to them?

I understand that the divorce rate is high, and probably nothing is going to change that. But even so--there are ways to sacrifice some selfish motives and “needs” to see that children are loved, wanted, and cared for. That’s the least a parent can do.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A Thursday Thirteen Quiz

It’s test time. Here’s a quiz on famous sayings and quotations from various places. How will you do?! Answers are at the bottom. No cheating allowed.

1. Fill in the blank: “Look before you --.” (Proverb)

a. take a step
b. cross the street
c. leap
d. judge

2. Fill in the blank: “More things are – than this world dreams of.” —Alfred, Lord Tennyson

a. understandable
b. wrought by prayer
c. achievable
d. sought after

3. Who said it? “I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have."

a. Dominick Hasek
b. Benjamin Franklin
c. Winston Churchill
d, David Letterman

4. Who said it? “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”

a. Ralph Waldo Emerson
b. Christopher Columbus
c. Queen Elizabeth
d. Walter Mondale

5. Fill in the blank: “I never forget --, but in your case I'll be glad to make an exception.” —Groucho Marx

a. a mistake
b. a face
c. a false impression
d. a polite host

6. Who said it? Do not worry about your problems with mathematics, I assure you mine are far greater.”

a. Charlie Brown
b. Sir Isaac Newton
c. Carl Sagan
d. Albert Einstein

7. Who said it? “Baseball is 90% mental, the other half is physical.”

a. George Bush
b. Bill Clinton
c. Yogi Berra
d. Babe Ruth

8. Who said it? “To thine own self be true; then as night follows the day, thou canst be false to no man.”

a. William Shakespeare
b. Christopher Marlowe
c. Tennessee Williams
d. Jesus

9. Fill in the blank: ”Let -- lie.” (Proverb)

a. brooding children
b. crooked politicians
c. sleeping dogs
d. old men

10. Who said it? “Fish and visitors smell in three days.”

a. Benjamin Franklin
b. Henry David Thoreau
c. Elizabeth Taylor
d. Salman Rushdie

11. Who said it? "I shoulda turned left at Albuquerque."

a. Bugs Bunny
b. The Tasmanian Devil.
c. Bonnie and Clyde
d. Johnny Carson

12. What movie is this in? “Hell with them fellas. Buzzards gotta eat."

a. Hang 'Em High
b. A Fist Full of Dollars
c. The Outlaw Josey Wales
d. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

13. What movie? “The way I see it, you got two choices. You either gotta get busy livin'... or get busy dyin'.”

a. Rio Hondo
b. The Shawshank Redemption
c. To Kill a Mockingbird
d. Shane


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

If you missed 0-2, you are a cultural genius; if you missed 3-5, you are pretty good—a semi-genius; if you missed more than 5, you are only a sometime genius; watch more TV.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Being Cool

I wrote this little (true) story as an example for my English students; it is a response to a question in our textbook that is meant to help students generate ideas: "Have you ever been embarrassed by a teacher or another student?"

When I was in the 8th grade, I was paying much attention to what my friends thought about me. I made good grades and was generally well behaved and cooperative, and I liked that image--but I also wanted very much to be thought of as "cool."

Our teacher, Mrs. Olive Schaefer, told us that we should watch a Hallmark-Hall-of-Fame kind of play on television one night; it was considered to be intellectually stimulating, and she wanted to see how we would like it. My friends and I were trying not to appear very interested in things like that, so we decided we would tell her we thought it was "stupid." I watched a few minutes of the play that night, but not nearly enough to even know what it was about.

The next day at school, Mrs. Schaefer asked what we thought of it, and several students said they hated it. Disappointed, she looked to me and asked, "What did you think?"

I wavered a few seconds. I knew that I should admit that I really didn't watch it. But all my friends were looking at me expectantly. I gathered up my courage and said, "I thought it was stupid."

Mrs. Schaefer looked at me for a moment and she saw right through me. She said, "Judy, I'm surprised at you." Then she went on with the next part of the lesson. I was mortified. I realized that in saying what I did, I told much more about myself than I meant to.

Monday, April 09, 2007

One Million Blogs for Peace

“One Million Blogs for Peace”--I just saw it for the first time, on the Journey with Jesus site linked in my sidebar.

Certainly, I am for peace.

I read about this “Million Blogs” project, and it sounds like a worthy cause to join. In general, I try to stay out of politics on this blog. But the more I think about it, the war in Iraq may not be something I can just classify along with “politics.” So….I’m going to think about it some more and try to learn more about it before I decide to join in.

Impulsiveness has always been one of my main characteristics, and it sometimes gets me into trouble. I am trying, with God’s help, to base my actions on thought and prayer—a worthy cause!