Opinions vs. Truth

As today is April 20th, we’re almost three full weeks into the annual observance of National Poetry Month. I always find it interesting to scroll through one website which chronicles various notable events On This Day. No mention on that website of National Poetry Month (no results found), but the site provides an interesting mix of history, film and tv, music and sport going back a long way.

When I view sites like On This Day, I’m usually curious about why certain pieces of information are included. For instance, the website today refers to a particular song release or a celebrity who broke her arm when thrown from a horse, or a specific brutal act committed by a mass murderer. Who decides which “events” are important enough to merit inclusion? Continue reading “Opinions vs. Truth”

Reading, Between the Lines

Reading is a particular kind of nourishment for me. Whether it’s research (information and study), relaxation (fiction and literary works) or relational (communing with my God), I read hungrily, interactively, establishing an intellectual (and often heartfelt) connection with the specific work and its author.

Image by Fio from Pixabay

However, I’m a reluctant latecomer when it comes to enjoying books presented in digital format. In fact, one of the most difficult transitions for me has been the gradual acceptance and subsequent adoption of digital books over actual paper-and-ink volumes. Since buying my first Apple iPad (maybe ten years ago?) and an Amazon Kindle (a short while after), I used the hand-held devices almost daily for email, browsing the internet, etc. … but rarely ever as a reading device! Both devices seemed cold and detached, objects which might be considered helpful but still completely devoid of personal connection. Continue reading “Reading, Between the Lines”

Culture As Report Card – Part II

In my previous post, I discussed how the culture has made an indelible mark on today’s Church. There’s a statement making its way around social media which addresses culture and the church. While there are various versions, the image (below left) is one I screen-shot from Facebook. 

Considering the number of places online where I’ve noticed this (and similar) expressions of concern, I think it’s safe to say many people are becoming more aware of the downward slide of the church. According to a 2019 Gallup poll, US church membership has declined sharply over the last two decades. An even more recent poll shows US church membership falling to its lowest level ever.

It’s difficult to identify the exact cause (or causes) of this decline. Some observers have even suggested the slide began in 1517 when a priest named Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the All Saints’ Church in Wittenburg (Germany). Luther was, after all, challenging church authority and doing so in a very public way.

Continue reading “Culture As Report Card – Part II”

Culture As Report Card – Part I

A pithy observation has tucked itself away within my memory. Though I can’t recall who said it (else I’d provide proper attribution), the comment begs for reflection and due consideration, especially as our social norms face new challenges almost every day.

Culture is the Report Card of the Church

Over the years, the terminology for a Report Card has morphed into something meant to sound less ominous:  Progress Report … Student Assessment … Quarterly Evaluation. Still, whatever it’s called, this periodic report often causes unnecessary dread for the person (or organization) being evaluated. Continue reading “Culture As Report Card – Part I”

Intractably Distractible

The oft-blamed bugaboo “writer’s block” can be (and often is) an unfortunate misnomer. A recent email from writer/editor Katie Holmes spurred my thinking about this designation. Editor Holmes referred to my 2012 post in which I fessed up to a lack of production disguised as “writer’s block” but was (is) more precisely my intractable distractibility!http://quotesgram.com/blocking-haters-quotes/

One of the discussions hosted by Editor Holmes at Outwittrade.com offers helpful tips for (and from) writers on the topic of writer’s block. Holmes provides an excellent distillation of hints, work-arounds and motivators designed to help a writer work past his/her perceived lack of production. The tips are practical and constructive for the new writer as well as for experienced writers. Continue reading “Intractably Distractible”

Sacramental Bonds

The recent passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has elicited reams of commentary on her life and her legacy. Recognizing the deep affection she had for fellow Justice Antonin Scalia (who died in 2016), I could respect how two esteemed colleagues from divergent philosophical backgrounds remained close friends.

The day after Ginsburg’s death, Harper’s Bazaar reposted a piece (originally published in January 2019) describing the Justice as “our feminist hero,” “a towering force to be reckoned with,” and “a pop-culture sensation.” NPR (online) described her as a “Champion of Gender Equality” and a “demure firebrand.” The Brennan Center for Justice was equally effusive:  “small, mighty, relentless and unforgiving.”

Continue reading “Sacramental Bonds”

Warring With Our Souls

Over the last couple weeks, COVID-19 has all but disappeared from front page news spreads having suddenly been supplanted by protests, rioting and looting. Yes, George Floyd’s murder was a despicable act of first-degree hate. There should be no debate, nor the excuse of possible extenuating circumstances.

Having said that, it is impossible for me to reconcile the understandable grief with senseless acts of barbarism and destruction which have been perpetrated as payback for this man’s death. If you think that’s a cruel or heartless thing to assert, you should probably go follow a different blog. (I’ll be equally direct in the paragraphs below.) Continue reading “Warring With Our Souls”

Elbow Room

When it comes to isolation, I’m something of an expert. (Someone – maybe Dizzy Dean? – once said: it ain’t bragging if it’s true.) Though I enjoy the company of a wide range of friends and loved ones, I’m quite content spending time alone. In fact, whenever there are times I must engage socially, it’s not long before I must grab time alone to replenish my sociability reserves.

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Unlike the social “deprivation” others are enduring, I’ve suffered no hardship from enforced social distancing. If I’ve needed to go out (grocery shopping, the post office, etc.), I’ve gone. In the beginning of March (as things first started closing down), I went to the post office where one of the counter clerks wore a surgical mask. It surprised me, but if that’s what she felt she needed to feel safe, I had no objections. Individuals should have the freedom to make those decisions for themselves.

Continue reading “Elbow Room”

Been There, Done That

Stir-crazy yet? Some people have more tolerance than others, I know. Still, more and more people are expressing similar frustration:  how long must this go on?

As I read back through old posts, I was reminded we’ve been here before. Back in October 2014, it was Ebola, another virus of considerable risk. At that time, my concerns centered on my elderly mother as well as my mother-in-law who passed away in 2017. Right now it’s my mom (now in her 94th year) who remains foremost in my thoughts. Continue reading “Been There, Done That”

The End of the World Has Arrived

If you’ve been stuck on a cruise ship in the mid-Atlantic (or alternatively, locked in video-game-quiescence), you may be blissfully unaware, so I’ll break it to you as gently as I’m able:

APRIL  IS  CANCELLED

Thanks to suspended schedules and cancelled seasons, sports fans may find their only social-distancing alternative is Tiddlywinks. Concert-goers don’t get a pass. Business owners won’t be conducting business as usual. Conferences? Nope. Spelling Bee? Nope. Any pretense of normalcy? Are you crazy?

No matter who you are and what your areas of interest, it’s safe to say the time has come to crawl back into the groundhog hole now and make yourself as comfortable as possible. We’re in this for the long haul.

It’s not a question of seeing one’s shadow. Despite the arrival of Spring-like weather assuring us of Winter’s end, it’s contrived. It’s a cruel fiction. The lush and exhilarating month of April is officially, unceremoniously cancelled. Continue reading “The End of the World Has Arrived”