Sunday, February 27, 2005

Naboth's Vineyard, USA

Chris wrote:

This issue is exactly why some of our friends insist that America is in no sense a 'free' country anymore. Not only can things you might normally say and do (legally) be declared illegal in public areas, if a good enough 'case' can be made for it, but citizens no longer have any security on their own property, not even, necessarily, to KEEP their own property.

Most of us don't see this as many of the non-illegal behaviors now outlawed in cities don't appeal to us anyway. We're largely unaware of how far surveillance policies have gone. Only here and there are those cases of folks forced from their land so a richer person/developer/company may benefit (supposedly benefitting the whole civil body in the long run). Its rarely (just about never) put that way in the news. Most of us still feel reasonably to secure.

In one case, fairly locally, I heard a terrible story. I'll have to ask you to keep in mind that I am depending upon the word of people I don't really know for this. But, according to them, some poorer folks of minority heritage had built up by hand, over decades, a former marginal piece of swampy ground into something decent to live on. They had no direct access to the water and received no public services from the county, though they did have electricity & phones available to most locations. Some years ago, a developer had plans for the area & in anticipation of the improvements, taxes rose dramatically on these poor dwellings year after year. (That taxes business is all over btw.) Still there were hold outs, so a few years ago, the county used "eminent domain." Eminent domain for waterside mansions & a yacht club??? According to them their road didnt even go through anywhere! The state didnt even maintain it!

I heard all this directly from several of the dispossessed who happened to be visiting with one another (after their move) while we waited for our fabric bolts to be cut. Such public coverage as I saw was mostly along the lines of "x county is planning massive improvements to its watershed area thanks to the interest of a new developer which will draw in large investment & improved realty taxes..with promises to be environmentally friendly etc. Those families were depersonalized into 'existing properties,' 'current usages of the delicate wetlands' which would shortly be improved upon etc.

Naboth's vineyard returns :(

I don't think Elijah will be far behind.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

That which edifies

1CO 10:23 "Everything is permissible"--but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible"--but not everything is constructive.

24 Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.
1CO 10:31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
"There are some who wish to learn for no other reason than that they may be looked upon as learned, which is a ridiculous vanity, ...Others desire to learn that they may morally instruct others; that is love. And, lastly, there are some who wish to learn that they may be themselves edified; and that is prudence."
St Bernard of Clairvaux, France c.1145 tran. S.J. Eales
At what point do the more innocent 'extras' in life become become unedifying?

I love to play and I love to learn. etc. To some extent this is useful, especially when I can share happy times over a domino board with my family, repair a beloved toy, offer ideas on how to treat some condition, or even simply explain my kids studies to them in what I hope are more memorable & amusing ways than their textbooks offered ~ but ~ my interest in study goes beyond any practical applications. It used to be a vanity of the type, St Bernard described. I wished to be acknowledged. I've been pretty well shorn of that. The conclusions I came to on many subjects are not popular withthe world. I will never be honored now even among the 'learned' sect unless I give up my beliefs & intellectual integrity (not a chance). So... for me, research has become another kind of play. Just like making my websites, chatting with folks, or writing stories. & Just like this blog. I only worry about spending too much time on such 'extras' or displeasing God with it...and yet this doesn't feel selfish to me. why not?

I've been asking myself what my deepest motivations are now, prompted mostly by Michael Card's Scribbling in the Sand. Haven't gotten very far. I feel 'simple' to myself, very straightforward. I care a lot about other people, but it seems like such concern or 'service' as I should like to give (beyond my family) is also incidental, 'extra.' I am left with offering encouragements (largely ignored), simply making what I hope are useful suggestions (ditto) & 'playing' ~ a lot. Can you play to the glory of God? I feel like that's all I'm doing.

Mind Candy

Tom had a bad evening again last night. His health is definitely slipping. For awhile I hoped the lingering symptoms would clear up on their own, but that doesnt seem to be the direction things are taking. I sure hope the next tests clearly reveal the cause! Found myself very inclined toward the more entertaining parts of life both when he first got back home last night & again today. Instead of the prophets, crochet, & Alaric the bold, I am suddently far more interested in Jeeves, Poirot, & adventure gaming. I know what it is. Mind candy. I had been deliberately switching back to more serious studies and efforts of late, but its hard to do at times like this. I'm about certain to add another humor game to my computer very shortly (probably Feeble Files), though I am thoroughly stuck in two games already & making steady progress on the GBA game. Just the same, I'm better than I used to be. I'm not trying 'escape' into these things anymore. Just seeking to 'sweeten' my mood before trying to cheer him. I've been learning to read Psalms & Isaiah & the epistles when I feel this way first & that helps me keep focussed.

Friday, February 25, 2005

last images from the Tsunami disaster

Got this link from one of my email lists today

I was very curious to see what the tsunami looked like close up. I saw the devastation and grieved. I saw the satellite images and blinked at the immense changes. This is different.

First impressions are dramatic but less so than the movies like "Deep Impact." No surprise there. It kinda hit me after a minute how normal everything looked..aside from that big wave. Blue, sunny skies, brisk wind. Looks like it was a real nice day at the beach before everyone was swept away. Whoever took these pictures was pretty good with a camara too... but now they are gone. :(

Neat! But is it Art?

Another great link from Pat. Thanks, Pat!

I love links like this. Complex foods, flowers, sand & ice sculptures easily draw oooohhhsss of delight from me and my family. But I always wonder when I look at things like this if we arent more easily impressed by ephmeral sculptural efforts like these than those made with more substantial stuff?


Wednesday, February 23, 2005



Its another quiet day at home with no particular plans besides the usual homeschool lessons, web surfing, etc. I'm not bored, though. Truth is I can't find enough hours in the day for what I want to get done. Haven't worked on my sewing in over 2 weeks thanks to that weird headache/bug I had (and Mom's Bday & other things). I should do more of that soon. Hey, at least I got more of my crocheting done while resting. heh

We did finally get Rebecca's site up which took more of my time than expected. She did the work herself but I was 'debugger' as well as chief design critic. Its not what I would have made but she has at last put all her 'ready to share' pictures in one place. That is definitely progress!

recent happy thingies :D
Still enjoying those amazing hand-blown glass goblets tipped in gold that Tom found for me for Valentine's Day ...& the new washing machine.

Now reading:: The Civilization of the Middle Ages by Norman Cantor, Scribbling in the Sand by Michael Card, Favorite parts of the Bible right now are ~ Psalms, Proverbs, & Paul's letters to the Galatians, Ephesians, Corinthians & Romans

& studying Daniel, Isaiah, Ezekial, & the last prophets (Nahum, Micah, Habakkuk etc) as time permits. If I understand what I'm reading correctly, the US, and indeed the whole world is in for very hard times in the near future. Its hard to believe judgement will be much longer delayed.

recently finished: rereading~ The Long War Against God by Dr Henry C Morris & essays from a few C.S. Lewis collection. Morris' books are heavy on reference and position. I don't always agree with everything he has to say but I do with most of it. Reading him cheek to jowl with C.S. was deliberate, as this approach normally helps my own critical faculties. I wanted this after the most recent mention in an acquaintance's blog made me aware how long it had been since I had reviewed those works. I found Morris' arguments more convincing than before. Nice to know other believers agree. :-)

just finished playing:: the Apprentice, Nick Bounty:CotC ~ Fun enough but too short!

Other Worlds, which was incredibly long for a freebie. I liked it aside from the anti-Myst cracks in part 2 & the ending, which I found nonsensical & a tad depressing. Tom opined that he must have been having a spat with his better half about then. All in all, it was a very good effort considering it was Alkis' first game.

& Simon the Sorcerer 2 ~ and now I'm not sure I played it before. If that wasn't the other Simon-esque game I played years ago, what DID I play back then? Discworld 1? It did seem a little familiar when I 'finally' got a copy. hhmmm...

Now playing: Mario & Luigi's Superstar Saga, very slowly indeed.
I started over on it while Tom was in the hospital. Its a tremendously fun little rpg on the Gameboy SP & I'm in no hurry to finish it. I especially enjoy the Chockorok bounce & some of the other minigames.

Myst IV:Revelation :: Actually, I spend more time looking at its box and thinking I should get back to playing it than actually turning it on.
I can only play Myst IV on our newest compy, which is much in demand. That doesnt help. (Rebecca uses it often for her rendering , fractals & photo-shopping. & Mom loves Uru now) But that's not the only thing. The unprofessional stupidity that accompanied my finally getting my free promotional copy (name was picked in a drawing) was also offputting. Despite the delay, I was fairly happy to see it & thanked those I understood, from my direct queries to the company & their responses, to be responsible. That should have been the end of things...a considerably delayed, but happy, ending. Postma, however, went spare at not being thanked. I have good reason to suppose that I actually thanked the right people and said as much, rather sharply. Then Postma used information never personally given to her to harass my family by phone at our house, and this was well after business hours. Ubisoft has promised this abuse will not recur. Good, but as long as they choose such people to represent them, officially employed or not, its hard to have much confidence in their handling. We have, therefore, taken some steps of our own & prepared. Now the sad thing is this, had this promotion been handled properly from the outset, I would have had a much better opinion of everyone involved. As it is, I'm not at all surprised at the rumors I've heard & I will certainly never order directly from that company again. I am aware that this all just background noise as far as the game is concerned. Development & Marketing are 2 different departments. Its just that I never managed to work up much enthusaism for Myst IV & it still hasn't 'caught' me as the other games did. Maybe it will after a bit. I did very much enjoy that first puzzle with Atrus, & will readily allow that Tomahna is very prettily done. RAWA said that the brother's Ages in Myst IV were close to what they had in mind in Myst & this has at last stirred some fresh curiosity. Maybe I'll check that out soon.

Haven't done much with Atlantzone or Sherlock Holmes:Silver Earring yet either. Soon maybe.

Last night I kept Tom company upstairs & played bits of Spyro 3 for the umpteenth time. Hope they find whatever this is on the cat scan Monday. We are all weary with waiting & trying_not_to_worry_too_much. On the upside, this has probably had a lot to do with our increased seriousness about our faith, what we'll stand for etc. As we lean on Christ ever more, we grow stronger within and are more at peace than ever before. His grace is with us.

Probably should get back to compiling a digital ref doc for CR as I did for Z:R. Wonder if I'll ever hear anything about my submission(s). ah well. Wait & see. I've plenty of other things to work on when I feel creative. Might be nice if I would spend some time making the Myst fanfic novel available for others to read. I quit revising the plot & the characters well over a year ago. It is what it will be & I need to get it done/published. She probably doesnt care now, but it would be nice if Tina finally saw what was written in her honor. It bothers me that my site hardly mentions the person I liked best during my most involved years in the Myst community.

Weather continues to be mildly chilled & generally overcast..except when it rains. This is, however, better than it could have been. All we've gotten of this week's 'winter storm' was a few tiny ice pellets mixed in with a surprisingly warm rain. Our cats enjoyed pouncing them for a bit, but then Pahket decided she'd much rather curl up inside out of the wet, so Greylady stomped off and sulked. Sadie watched horrified from the windows for the first part & horrified from the stairs when Pahket came in. I think she was jealous ~ as she's not allowed out yet. (soon, I hope) Her big thing yesterday was eating a pair of Rebecca's headphones. NOBODY expected that. There was still food in her bowl too. It will be good when she can work off some of her energy with the other kitties.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Mary & Jesus

I woke up today ‘listening’ to the memory of “Holy is His Name,” which is John Michael Talbot’s arrangement of Mary’s praises to God around the time of the Annunciation. Last night I was reading from Luke in my Scofield NKJV and considering these scriptures:

LUKE 1:46 And Mary said:

"My soul glorifies the Lord LK 1:47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

LK 1:48 for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed,
LK 1:49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me-- holy is his name.
LK 1:50 His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.
LK 1:51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
LK 1:52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.
LK 1:53 He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.
LK 1:54 He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful
LK 1:55 to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers."
LK 8:19 Now Jesus' mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd. 20 Someone told him, "Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you."

LK 8:21 He replied, "My mother and brothers are those who hear God's word and put it into practice."

LK 11:27 As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, "Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you."

LK 11:28 He replied, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it."

(Zondervan NIV. From my computer)
And so this is today’s reflection:

When I was growing up, it seemed strange to me that Christ seems to be rebuking his immediate family every time the topic came up. Mary had been told that she would indeed be blessed and honored by God. Surely, this should begin with Christ who always did his Father’s will? We should see how to honor her through Him, yes? God would certainly honor his own precepts more than any other. It was a puzzle to me. The best thoughts I could get from folks at church was that Christ was heading off the heresies that were likely to come from Marianism (yes, these were Protestants.) hhmm…

The answer didnt entirely satisfy me. But what DID Jesus mean by these replies?

I have thought on the subject off and on since then, especially since my Mother chose Catholicism some years ago. Mom was raised with both varieties growing up. Her father was Catholic.) I was raised non-denominational, but usually Protestant non-denominational, as congregations tend to be Protestant by default if they aren’t from the beginning..Err..Catholic.

Today I realized as I read these that Christ isn’t repudiating his mother in these verses. He’s telling us WHY Mary is blessed & honored. She heard the Word of God and obeyed it. So why not just say, “yep! God loves Mom & I think she’s pretty special myself!”? I think that its because in these cases people were attempting to set natural order/controls over the Incarnation. (As very probably, His mother & relations had been sent to “speak” to Christ by the local religious order.) And to some extent, while He lived among us, there was something to it ~ but His words had to be for all generations. He had to obey God rather than men, but still honor the physical relationships placed over Him on Earth. (Probably Joseph had gone home by the time Christ began His earthly ministry, but he still honored his mother.)

So, in one amazing sentence, Jesus confirms the basis of His strongest relationship with Mary & other members of His family. Simultaneously, He repels the efforts to use natural authority to limit His work for God the Father. & Rather than limiting the most special of God’s blessings to those immediately related to Christ while he was physically on Earth, Jesus expands that special relationship to all those who will seek & obey God. 2000+ years later, I can still hope to qualify. And, yes, he limits the basis of Arianism. Saints of His day are not necessarily going to be ‘higher’ than those serve God in a later time. Christ emphasizes this several times. IE: “But many who are first will be last, and the last first” Mark 10:31 We should not worship them. I do think, though, that we can ask those who have gone ahead to pray for us, even as we pray for one another here on Earth. All that and more in one sentence. Wow.

But what about Mary? Is she special among the saints or not? I think she is. One of Christ’s last acts at Calvary was to tell John the Beloved & Mary that they were mother & son, so providing some comfort for them both in His absence. The turning of the water into wine at the marriage of Cana was done largely at Mary’s request. This was the closest thing to a ‘frivolous’ miracle in all the Gospels, and it was done just because Mary asked Jesus to help. Think about it. Christ spent a LOT of time ministering, teaching, healing, casting out evil spirits, raising the dead, and at least twice fed bread to a great many very hungry people who sought Him out ~ turning water into wine is a luxury by comparison. JN 2:4 "Dear woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus replied. "My time has not yet come." (I always imagine Him saying this with a twinkle in His eye.) He rebuked Mary gently, but Christ loved her enough to fix the situation ~ because she trusted in Him. JN 2:5 His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."

& Those are the only other direct words we have from Mary, herself. Her witness is to do as Christ says.

We tend to want to say Mary is special because her service included giving birth to and raising the Christ, but Jesus emphasizes her faithfulness to God instead. We cannot be Mary, but we CAN hear God’s word and obey it. He’s not being ungenerous to her but kind to us. Her position was assurred by the salvation He bought. She already believed.

Final thoughts~

LK 2:33 The child's father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too."

Mary was specially chosen and prepared for what was going to be a difficult life. She was going to need all those amazing encouragements she was given at the Annunciation & after Christ’s birth. When Jesus was on the way, she would be dragged to Bethlehem so Joseph could look after her while paying his tax. Joseph may have feared what would happen if he left her with their extended family. When Jesus was still small, she & Joseph had to flee for their lives to Egypt, where they were regarded as weird just for being Jews. After their return it is probable that she faced whisperings and judgments from the neighbors & relatives about Christ’s, uh, early arrival. When Christ grew older, His differences were bound to have caused some disturbances, not to mention the strain of suspecting (did she really know?) that she was raising THE perfect child. I would be very surprised if she never had bad days just from that. Then Christ grew up and began his ministry. Now everyone was stirred! How much flak did she hear after Christ rebuked the Pharisees & the Sadducees? How much pressure & how many threats & accusations did she suffer before and after His death? We hear echoes of some of it in the gospels. It was not an easy life. She probably needed the encouragement of that wine midway through her own walk with God.

Christ honored Mary, but he wants us to realize that Mary’s special relationship to God, her honor, and her glory were bound up in her faithfulness to Him under tough circumstances.

Susan M


Hello :)

Welcome to Shushan's Shore! I am Susan M, Tom's wife of 17rs, & mom to 2 great young'uns, 16 & 10, who are growing up faster than I like to think about.

I am a Christian whose hobbies include reading, writing, sewing, surfing the net, adventure games, and quite a number of crafts. I also collect penguins, or else they collect me. Not too sure about that. ;) I am a big fan of the Myst series & have a fanfiction site for it. Hopefully I'll have the family website back up soon as well.

Pleased to meet you!