Archive for the ‘blogging’ Category

David Ker is my blogfather. He is the one I thank or blame (depending on my mood) for getting me into this whole blogging thing. I think my comments on his blog were getting too long (imagine that) or something, and he nicely recommended I start my own blog.

Well, I’ve now been blogging a little over a year, and I’m guessing that in blog years, that makes me just about a blogolescent. Which means I’m supposed to rebel, right? And if I’m supposed to rebel, when I hit the blogging teen years, then it really doesn’t matter if I break a few of my blogfather’s hard and fast rules. I don’t remember exactly where these rules are written, but I seem to remember his saying that to be a good blogger one most post frequently. I’ve obviously been breaking that rule. And then, I think I recall his saying that one should never blog about why one has not been blogging frequently. I’m now about to break that rule, too.

Here are the top reasons why Eclexia has become rather unpredictable in her blogging habits:

5. Single Mom. Four Kids. Summer Break. Self explanatory.

4. Blogging is like  mixing pen pals with reality TV. Pen pals, on the one hand, can be fun. On the other hand,I can’t stand reality TV and the stilted drama-for-entertainment-that-pretends-to-be-real-life.  Pen-palling, like blogging, is only a one-dimensional relationship, but that’s not bad in and of itself. You get to meet interesting people and learn interesting things. But, in blogging, to have such public pen pals, in such a big social circle, brings certain social dynamics into the public realm without all the bigger social supporting beams that support face to face relationships. In pen-palling, there usually aren’t social pressures to put a strain on the relationship. On reality TV, social pressures are magnified, but in a context where there is no connection beyond the contrived and limited context to fall back on. And to make it worse, those voices-with-nothing-else-to-back-them-up are very public. Both agreements and disagreements are made more of, I think, in the blogging world than they would be in the rest of life where the people agreeing or disagreeing have more to life and relationship to fall back on than just their intense, disembodied talk. Disagreements on blogs, in my opinion, take on more of the reality TV drama than they ever would in ordinary dialogue, which is anchored in deeper social contexts. I haven’t quite decided, as I get to know and enjoy more online friendships, if I can handle the lopsided and public nature of those friendships, or if I’d just rather revert to the penpal model (I suppose it’s called something like epal these days. Or maybe Facebook.) with the online friends I’ve already made.

3. Some days trying to make sense is just too much work. I recently received this little statement in a daily email I get from StoryPeople:

Thinking there’s not a whole lot to say anymore, now that people listen and he has to make sense.”

With all the joys of meeting so many interesting people, comes the pressure I feel to have to make sense and say something that they–my new friends–will find worthwhile reading. That part was easier when I didn’t know anybody online and didn’t care if I could write well or if I made much sense in what I wrote. Being able to write my thoughts helped me make sense of them to myself. It was an anonymous little world where I could work to try to make sense of my thoughts without social pressure, and then having sorted them out a bit, find it easier to communicate my thoughts in my face-to-face friendships. I wanted a place to struggle to articulate my thoughts on various topics without having to worry about how they would be heard or understood. Now, blogging feels more like real life where I really care about communicating what’s on my heart in a way that real people who I know and like will actually be able to hear and understand what it is I’m trying to say. That people are listening intimidates me a little.

2. Blogging is a lot more like public speaking than I ever imagined. I’m an introvert. I like my friends one a time. I can be quite talkative one-on-one. But you will find me speaking up to a whole group of my friends a whole lot less frequently. I like to be fully engaged with the person I’m communicating with. And you can’t do that with a lot of people. Blogging stresses me out a little bit, because I’m thinking of each of the people I’ve come to know who are reading my blog, and I can’t really talk to each of them. I have to talk to all of them at once. And that is not easy for me.

And the number 1 reason I’ve not been blogging much lately:

1. I don’t have a waterproof laptop in my shower. Just this morning, in my pre-church shower, I had an interesting thought I wanted to blog about, and the words to express it were right there. All of that was gone by the time I got back to my computer. Either I’m delusional in overestimating the profoundness of my shower thoughts, and once I get out, I come back to reality and realize they weren’t all that interesting after all. Or, I’ve got some serious short term memory loss issues going on. Either way, I’m never so confident about my ability to talk about interesting things in interesting ways, as I am when I’m in the shower. Which is, needless to say, not very conducive to blogging.

Well, it might sound like I’ve just talked myself right out of blogging anymore. But for me, the most important step in doing anything is spelling out all the obstacles, and then deciding whether or not I want to really do the thing and if so, how to work with or around the obstacles.

I will say this:  I only want to continue blogging if it gives me energy, rather than takes energy from me. By looking at these challenges, I’m encouraged to think that there might be ways around some of these stressors, so I can continue to enjoy this venue for expressing myself and dialoging with all manner of interesting people who make me think and feel (Thinking and feeling both give me energy. So, blogging really is a good place for me to get energy. But only if I can minimize the above obstacles.)

Any suggestions are appreciated.  Of course, if no one comments, I might think everyone I know has gone away during my quiet time, and if no one I know is reading my blog anymore, I’m back to not having to worry about making sense!

I’m just kidding about that. I do miss chatting with those of you who read and comment here, and I look forward to hearing any thoughts or suggestions you might have as I keep growing up (and hopefully maturing) in blog years. I really do see many things I like about this odd little social realm, and I don’t think I’m ready to totally step out of it yet.

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Because if I had to reject everyone whose brain thinks and communicates in ways that are different than mine and which are hard for me to understand, I’d miss out on gems like this post from Ancient Hebrew Poetry, “Why I am Not an Atheist”. The whole post is brilliant, and I hope you’ll go there to read it. But, since I find through blog stats that few links are consistently clicked onto, let me highlight this one small selection:

I see a rising tide of evil, and hope against hope in God’s superabounding grace. I see baseless fears everywhere: they just have new names. I see an abundance of racism, and especially classism, wherever I look. It is simply put to more ‘refined’ uses. I see no more wisdom in the current arrangement of roles and time management as it is distributed along gender lines, than was true in the past.

Oh, yes, it is wonderful to hear someone presenting reality as reality, side by side with the hope of God’s superabounding grace, without trying to reconcile things by diluting or denying either how bad things still are in spite of all of our progress or how superabounding the grace of God is. The reality John points out here makes me think and puts words to things I see and feel.

My point, though, is not primarily how much I liked this particular post, as much as it is what I’d be missing out on if I wrote John off as a “hopeless intellectual” just because he often writes about things my brain can’t begin to comprehend in ways that are quite complex.

I subscribe, via Bloglines, to Ancient Hebrew Poetry. Perhaps 80 percent of what I read there goes over my head. I can imagine some of my friends looking at me and asking, “Why bother?” Well, partly it is because the part I do get enriches my life so much. But, another part of it is that I enjoy getting to know and hear about life through John’s eyes and mind. I enjoy having friends, even blogging friends, who make life so interesting because they are so different from me.

If I see a brilliant intellectual, and let that aspect of the person’s personality be all I see, and if I write off that person because of what I don’t understand when they speak, I will have missed that person as a whole person, who is intellectual, but not only “An Intellectual”. I also will have missed the opportunity for my life to be enriched, for my faith to be challenged, for my heart to understand things from perspectives I’d never have arrived at myself.

Aristotle’s Feminist Subject is another blog I follow, but do not often understand. I’m glad I stumbled on the blog and hung around, because I’ve met another nice and interesting (and I mean both of those words as compliments, in spite of how they are often twisted, semantically, to mean other things) person in J.K. Gayle and gleaned so much of value from the small percentage that I do understand of what he writes. It was on that blog that I was introduced to a biography, Same Kind of Different As Me, which has impacted my life and thinking profoundly. It’s the only book I can think of that I found myself weeping after I finished reading. It shook up many of my presuppositions about life, about class, about change, about how God works.

Sometimes I’m intimidated by highly intellectual people. Okay, I usually and almost always am. But I don’t want that intimidation to get in the way of connection with people. The conversations I’ve had with both John and J.K., while only a small part of my whole life, are ones that I am so glad I didn’t miss out on. I treasure these connections and online friendships. And I find that once I get to know the person behind the intellect, the intimidation either goes away or at least becomes not so big of a deal.

And while I say that my life has been enriched by the things I do understand that John and J. K. write, it’s not nearly as utilitarian as it sounds. Mainly I’ve really enjoyed getting to know, however remotely, two interesting people whose amazing intellects happen to be just one part of what makes them interesting and nice people.

Connection in the body of Christ is supposed to cross over barriers. If you can run intellectual and academic circles around me, and I use that as a reason to disdain you, then I’m telling you I can only connect to you if you stop thinking and talking the way God made your brain to work. To me, that is sad and would be a great loss all around.

What do you think? Is there a difference in disdaining people because the way they think is complicated as opposed to any other reason that we disdain people who are different from us? Is it okay to disdain an intellectual, but terrible to disdain someone who is mentally retarded? I see that as highly inconsistent. I would daresay we deceive ourselves if we think it’s acceptable to disdain someone who has more of something than we do–whether it be money, intellect, popularity, etc.–but appalling to disdain someone who has less of the same thing than we do.

If I think I can disdain or write off someone who has “more,” then I have to wonder if my “acceptance” of someone with “less” is really acceptance or merely patronizing? Lately I’ve been thinking that “patronizing” is just the dolled up, socially acceptable version of disdain.

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I’ve been tagged. For the first time ever. With not one, but two literary memes. Thanks to Christianne at Lilies Have Dreams for inviting me to talk about books.

I’ll go ahead with the first. Unfortunately, my honest answers are rather boring. Which makes me glad I get a second chance with the second meme. You may not find my answers to the second one particularly non-boring, but at least I think they are more interesting to write about. 

Here are the rules of the first meme:

1) Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
2) Open the book to page 123.
3) Find the fifth sentence.
4) Post the next three sentences.
5) Tag five people.

Here is the part of my desk directly in front of me, covered with books and papers (the desk/shelf to my left looks pretty much the same):


There are many books nearby. A science book. A language arts workbook. My NLT Bible. A child’s book about Abraham Lincoln, written from the perspective of his son. All of those books are on the desk to my left. In front of me is a child’s historical novel about Florence Nightingale. An American Association of Retired Persons magazine (which I’m keeping for a post I may write someday about regret). Scuffy the Tugboat and Richard Scarry’s Storybook Dictionary. Those are here because my five-year-old sometimes likes to sit on my lap and look at books while I do my medical transcription work. Don’t ask me why there is a flowered hot mitt on my desk. I must have been cooking and wandered in here to check my email. Or my son could have been cleaning up the kitchen and gotten distracted (it runs in the family).

And then, finally, there are a few books over 123 pages: Two directories of all the doctors in the area surrounding where the doctors I type for are (which is 900 miles from where I live). A drug reference manual. A medical dictionary. And a biography about a man whose work fascinates me, but whose biography is hard to keep making my way through. Now that I’ve given the book such a poor recommendation, I don’t want to quote from it and tell you what book it is I find so boring. So, I’ll quote from my dictionary, which I sometimes find extremely interesting (for example, when I come across carrot and wonder why it is in a medical dictionary, only to discover that “its seed is diuretic and stimulant”.) I’ll find the fifth definition entry on page 123 and then post the next three.

Arthrobotrys–a genus of imperfect fungi of the family Moniliaceae, order Moniliales, some of which infect and destroy nematodes

arthrocace–caries of a joint

arthrocele–a swollen joint

There now, don’t you feel enlightened? I didn’t know you could get cavities or bone decay anywhere except your teeth. And I also didn’t know that there were perfect fungi, but there must be if it’s worth giving a name to the imperfect type. This browsing through the dictionary on my desk has reminded me that, when we lived in Africa, my two oldest children (one of who was newly literate and the other still very much pre-literate at the time) loved to look through and read from Where There is No Doctor. Lingamish has said this, concerning being a book lover in  a remote part of a non-English speaking country: “I have no money. No libraries. No bookstores. So all my books are old, borrowed or stolen.” I suppose that explains why my children found a medical book so fascinating at the time.

As a follow up to my last post, in which I asked for help in remembering the difference between disc and disk, what I have discovered is that there is very little agreement, even between medical dictionaries on the correct spelling. The discs/disks in your spine are spelled both ways, depending on who you ask. Diskos is the Greek. Discus is the Latin. Medical terminology is Latin-based, so, the reasoning goes, we should spell discs in the body with a “c”. Unfortunately, the doctors I work for use a different logic (or possibly just a different dictionary), so I’ve got to remember to spell it with a “k”. The route my brain will have to go is to first think of what seems most logical to me, and then type the other spelling.

A page from the University of Auckland’s website informs me that the difference in computers is this: floppy disks, which were developed in America are spelled the American way. Compact discs, developed in Europe, have the European spelling.

Enough dictionary rambling. I’m curious about the nearest book on other people’s desks. I’ve enjoyed reading various people’s responses, and now I’m tagging some bloggers I read, whose answers to the above meme I do not think I have seen yet:

Phil Smoke

Heart to Heart


Narrow Ridge

Musings of a Christian Psychologist


(I know, I know. I can count, and that’s six, not five.)

I’m not into putting pressure on people. In the past, that probably would have kept me from tagging anybody else. Today I’m in the mood to say, “I’m tagging you, but there is no implied pressure, if (a) you’re not in the mood (b) you boycott tags and memes (c) tags and memes don’t really fit your personality or that of your blog or (d) some other reason I haven’t thought of 🙂 ”

I’d love to see a selection from the book nearest to you right now, but even if I never do, I continue to look forward to all the other interesting things on your blogs. You all make me think and feel in a wonderful variety of ways.

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Down time

Thank you so much for all who have responded to my survey about church. I’m really thankful for all of your answers and the perspectives they give. Reading them, I feel like one of the blind men in the story of trying to comprehend an elephant without being able to see–each person’s perspective is a bit different and adds to the bigger picture. 

My blogging has been fairly slow for a while–once or twice a week, usually on the weekends. This week I had a bit of an emotional and physical crash and am battling to cope, so I’m slowing down even more for the moment while I catch myself back up, especially emotionally.

Grief and questions and work and financial uncertainty and being there for my kids and loss upon loss and sadness and recovering from burnout and questions and more questions sort of pile up periodically and whack me over the side of the head. I read once how many calories thinking burns up. It makes sense that thinking “too much” (as my friends like to say about me), then, is also using precious energy. Unfortunately, I can’t just turn my brain off and stop thinking. 

Usually, I can find rest in the middle of my brain going on and on, but when I’m worn down I’m not so good at it (the rest bit–maybe it takes some energy to be able to rest well.) Ironically, I made it through a few years of rather traumatic times and was graced with good rest for the duration, but, now that life itself has settled a bit, my sleep patterns are crazy and even when I’m sleeping, my brain seems to keep going chaotically. So for the past two weeks, I’m not even resting well when I’m sleeping.

The thing I am doing, then, is stopping trying to put words to my thoughts and feelings for a little while as that is an energy drain that I can control more easily than stopping the intensity of the thoughts and feelings. Maybe only a week, maybe longer. I don’t know. Blogging is an odd thing–when I’m able to find words for the stuff inside my head, it helps and gives me energy. But sometimes, that process is just too draining. 

I wanted to let you know I’ve not disappeared completely or stopped blogging. Aso, if you’ve written or write me an email and don’t get an answer from me for a while, it’s not because I’m ignoring you–I always have a response inside of me, but not always the energy to put it in a form that actually communicates back. Your emails and comments comfort and encourage me, even in the in between time when I’m not writing back.

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[If you’re going to run off without reading this post because it’s too long, I understand. I use lots of words to think, but know lots of people are frustrated by such excessiveness.  If that’s you, I would be really grateful if you’d skip over the wordy part of the post and consider answering the bolded questions at the end, before you leave. Thanks 🙂 ] 

I’ve been thinking a lot about church during the past year. Due to a set of unexpected circumstances, I found myself searching for a church to attend at a time when I wanted desperately to be settled. With a combination of grief, my introverted tendency to avoid new groups of people and a critical attitude, the process was pretty rough and lengthy. Right before Christmas, a lot of things came together. I felt like my grief came to the surface in a clearer way, and God began to touch and chip off the arrogant attitudes in such an amazing and tender way. It’s hard to describe how tangible that process was and what a relief it was to be able to let go of some of the attitudes I’d been holding onto, but not liking.

I’ve been learning a lot in the process, thanks in great part to many of you who read this blog and others whose blogs I read. (I’m not going to try to locate and link back to all the specific blogs, because there are too many over quite a period of time. I’m just linking to the home pages of many of the bloggers who have influenced my life as I work through my thinking on church. If you want to know more about a specific author or post I refer to, though, email me and I’ll send you the link(s).)

Codepoke’s posts on blooming where you are planted and getting involved in a church near ones house prompted me to visit a nearby church I had otherwise overlooked. That is the church I ended up deciding to settle into and be a part of.  Lingamish continues to keep me on my toes with regards to thinking about worship and challenging some of my expectations. The honest writings at Beyond Words have given me a model for critical thinking about church while maintaining  a heart of humility and life of servanthood.  John at Ancient Hebrew Poetry got me thinking with some of his posts as he has written about a wedding and a funeral he preached, has shared bits and pieces about the churches he and his wife pastor, as well as thoughts on his aunt’s active involvement in her church. Phil’s own thoughts at Pensees as well as a quote he shared by Kierkegaard have me grappling with the topic from another angle. And Thainamu has shared some about her church and the life group she is a part of, which helped me think about my own expectations. How they do things fit with a lot of my expectations, even though if you’d have asked me what the ideal small group looked like, I couldn’t have come up with a description very easily.

And then Scott Gray of A Lectionary Beyond Belief wrote and asked me some questions, which motivated me to try harder to articulate some of these vague thoughts and feelings.

Articulating stuff is hard for me. People don’t think it is, because I am so verbose. But the verboseness is part of the struggle to actually be able to narrow down and communicate what’s going on inside of me on a given topic. I suppose I unconsciously think that if I use enough words, I’ll eventually be able to accurately get out what is on my heart and mind. But I’m rarely satisfied with the end result, and I think sometimes I lose the point in all of the words. Anyway, Scott’s questions helped. As a brainstormer and networker, my thinking was all over the map, so to speak. But with specific questions, I was able, a little bit, to start to narrow down some of my thinking. Instead of sharing my partially formed answers here and now, though, I’d like to hear your thoughts on the topic.

I want to ask you one of Scott’s questions with a couple of my own. I’m thinking of this as a survey. For those of you who read blogs, but don’t comment because you don’t think you have anything to contribute to the conversation, actually you do on this post!  Everybody has a contribution to make to a survey. This is an open ended survey about what you do and why you do it. If you do it (go to church), you’ve got something to add (and if you don’t do it, your reasons for that would contribute a helpful perspective as well!)

I’m really curious about why people go to church and what they expect when they do. There are no right or wrong answers, and I’m not planning on responding to the comments in the thread itself.  My hope is that it truly will be a collection of responses that will paint a picture for me and help me sort out, clarify and articulate my own thoughts. I may further the discussion in another post, but here I’d like to collect your reasons without adding my 2 cents to them.

If you go to church, there are reasons you do, and there are expectations you have for that. I’m wanting to learn more about the scope and variety of those reasons and expectations.

Here’s the original question I was asked:

What do you think the purpose of church services is in ones spiritual and faith community life?

Here are two other questions to help you think through it. Feel free to respond to any or all of them.

What do you hope/expect to get out of going to church?

What do you hope/expect to contribute by going to church? (i.e. what part do you believe the individual believer has in the bigger purpose of church services?)

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It’s a privacy thing and not a secrecy thing. I really do like the privacy of blogging more or less anonymously.

My extraverted friends have a hard time understanding how intensely private I am, even though one-on-one in personal conversations, I can be very open and vulnerable. I like being able to share my heart personally and face-to-face. But that sort of limits the amount of feedback and dialogue that can happen. Blogging has been a nice way to find my voice in a way that allows me some privacy, but also lets me talk to more people and have my thinking challenged and interacted with in ways that are not threatening and don’t require as much ability to “think on my feet” as real-time, face to face conversations do.

Sometimes I process quite slowly, but it is hard in verbal conversations to recognize the need for space and time to process before answering. When I’m reading someone’s writing, though, I find I can back up and think about it for a few weeks and let it become a part of my internal dialogue before I respond (if I ever do). At the same time, if I have a response right away, I am free to do that as well.

Well all that is a preamble to saying, although I blog anonymously, I really don’t feel a need to hide everything about who I am in a secretive sort of way.

Yesterday I stumbled on the weather pixie, which is now in my sidebar. I like it because the picture sort of looks like me, except that I wear glasses, my nose is bigger and I’m a little shorter (actually, I’m quite tall, but since the pixie’s head is halfway up the moon, I can for once say, “I’m short, in comparison to her!”). So, if you’re the kind of person who needs a face to go with the person you’re talking to, I hope this picture helps 🙂

The one or two of you who have actually met me in person can feel free to disagree about the resemblance, but for now, I think it’s pretty good for a cartoon.

Just in case you wondered, the big number  on the weather pixie graphic is not altitude. There’s no place in Florida that high. Did you know that Florida has the lowest high point of any state in the US?  That number is pressure, measured in hPa, a measurement I’m not familiar with.

I also like that the weather pixie gives the temperature in Celsius. I’m trying to be more aware of stating measurements in metric alongside of the American default system. I’m getting a better feel for approximate temperate equivalents as I watch the degrees go up and down in Celsius (although I wish they’d start going back UP–we’re having another cold snap here).

The temperature readings seem to be updated every couple of hours and are taken from an airport relatively nearby (in the same county).

One final story in this totally random post. When I was in 3rd grade, I vividly recall the day (!) we spent studying metric. I remember a vague sense of fear (although I don’t remember the exact words the teacher said that instilled that fear) that the universal metric system was all part of some socialist communist plot to make us like all the other countries in the world. I also remember (not surprisingly, given the fear factor) that the metric system seemed horrifically complex, difficult to understand and almost impossible to actually figure out.

When I was 18 and traveling in PNG, all of a sudden it dawned on me on day how amazing simple the metric system really is. How could I have ever thought 12 inches to a foot, 3 feet to a yard, 5280 feet to a mile, 16 ounces to a pound, etc. was SIMPLE? In hindsight, if there is any conspiracy or plot, surely it has something to do with keeping people thinking that a system like that is somehow better? than one where everything is broken down into 10s, 100s, 1000s.

I wonder if this contestant on Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader would have done any better if she knew and could have answered in metric? I’m not sure it would have helped.  My fifth grader was laughing so hard. Not that the fifth grader on the show got the answer right either, but at least she didn’t keep digging herself into a deeper hole like the adult contestant did!

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I feel happiest when I have faced and felt how deeply sad I am.

Probing the depths of sadness and feeling it deeply and widely frees me up to laugh again. I don’t know if that makes sense. I can feel myself sliding and falling into consuming sadness and lethargy, and that can be frightening. But, I have found that I am increasingly less fearful (though not always fear-free) of the falling. I have found that when I let myself collapse into the sadness and feel what I am feeling, that the sadness does not join with the fear of the power of the sadness to overwhelm me quite so intensely.

I call it therapeutic depression. Sort of the idea that the quickest way out of depression is to be depressed. (There’s some more of Viktor Frankl’s influence on my life and thinking for you.)

Anyway, I wanted to try to express this in conjunction with my heavy and sad thoughts in yesterday’s post, “evil ain’t got no roof”. That kind of melancholy concerns some of my friends. And while I appreciate (and even depend on) their concern, I want to say, It’s okay. I don’t feel as hopeless as I might sound when I write and feel those things. I feel more hopeful by being able to acknowledge the sadness and suffering and the weight of it and realize that is the reality where my trust in God happens. After I write something depressing, I don’t feel depressed.

Feeling what I felt when I wrote that is what lets me be able to laugh long and hard and not have the laughter feel like a denial of “the rest of” reality. Somehow, it’s like holding sadness and happiness together in tension makes me feel both more deeply and vividly.

I love laughter, and even though I am not the person who can spontaneously conjure up hilarious perspectives on life, I am connected with people who can (I’m so thankful for relationships), and I admire them in the same way I admire any artist who can make me look at life in ways I wouldn’t naturally look at it. Because I am empathetic and have a vivid emotional memory (blessing and curse that it is), when I see things through a funny person’s eyes, that perspective becomes a part of me, even though I couldn’t self-generate it.

I have a deep appreciation for genius–both the kind that gets shown off in the public eye, and the genius that goes more or less unnoticed.  And I have a mental collection of the geniuses I’m glad are in my life (you don’t have to know me for me to consider you a part of my life. If you impact my life, I’m glad you’re in my life, and I feel connected to you.)

My favorite humor geniuses who paint pictures and perspectives that I can hold in tension with my serious way of viewing life are:

Click and Clack, the automotive genius brothers of NPR’s Car Talk. I listen to them most Saturday nights as a way of rebuilding my depleted serotonin after a stressful week and as a balance to my wacky “therapeutic depression” ideas.

Lingamish–A dear friend in a family of dear, delightful, spontaneous and funny friends, who can be counted on to make me laugh when I’m taking life too seriously. He and his wife have felt some of my heaviest sadnesses with me, and his cyberpsalms often put words to diverse emotions I experience in my walk with God. That depth makes the humor and laughter he shares mean even more. He can make me laugh about the most serious things, and that, in my book, is a real gift.

Dave Barry. I’m almost embarrassed to admit how funny I find his books. Somehow he takes the ordinary things of life that I take for granted (or, alternatively, take REALLY seriously) and squeezes every bit of absurdity out of them until I’m laughing so hard I think I might be able to think about life again without imploding over the seriousness of it all. I recently finished his book History of the Millenium and wondered at my enjoying his perspective so much when most of my immediate circle friends (who are all way funnier than me in real life) would have found him to be intolerably rude and offensive.

Apart from these geniuses, where I can count on being able to get a funny perspective anytime I need one, I love discovering creative and hilarious cleverness in unexpected places.

Today, I laughed and laughed at the following video links from Ray Fowler. And I got double pleasure appreciating the minds that came up with ideas like these and then carried through with the ideas!

Four Handed Guitar Creativity:

Singing Backwards. This guy thought of everything, so that when he played it backwards, you can see that it really is being played in reverse. Absolutely hilarious. Some people might think it a waste of time to do what it takes to master truly SINGING a song backwards. Maybe it is. But, I don’t know–it takes all kind of people to make this world a tolerable and interesting place to live, and I think there are people like this to balance out people like me 🙂 (Or at least to make people like me laugh)

And finally, this hilarious, a cappella, mix-up rendition of 12 Days of Christmas (discovered at Ramblings of a Mother) is  a work of musical creativity that also made me laugh today and be excited thinking about somebody (or somebodies) coming up with this and then pulling it off.

(Can you tell I’m also excited that I FINALLY figured out how to put video links up? I don’t know what I’m doing differently today, because I thought it was the same thing I tried before, but THIS time it works!)

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I am an introverted feeler, who happens to think a lot. I like to hear what other people are thinking and learn from that. I can’t always keep up, but that has never stopped me from listening and wanting to learn, and interacting internally with what I learn.

I process what I hear, of course, internally as a feeler. And when I try to interact, ask questions or give my two cents to thinking-based conversations, my input often doesn’t even seem to make sense. Since I already struggle to put words to what is inside of me, when what comes out doesn’t make sense to the hearer, it’s embarrassing, demoralizing and I don’t want to try again, because I already put so much effort into what was misunderstood.

In addition, the intensity and rapid logic exchanges which happen between intellectual thinkers easily overwhelm and intimidate me. When what I say doesn’t make sense to a thinker, and the thinker challenges me, I might remain confident inside myself on my perspective, but I rarely can find the words (and certainly not confident, logical words) to explain it better or in terms that can be understood or even seem worth considering by a deep thinker. Sometimes I wonder if my feeling interaction (even if I’m agreeing, but say it in a different way) seems to cheapen or lessen the impact of the intellectual depth that is being communicated. I don’t know, and I’m struggling even now to explain this. But, I’m trying to do so, because I want to say thanks to two thinkers who I can listen to and learn from, and who manage not to intimidate me totally in the process.

Reading (whether in books or on the internet) is a good way for me to listen to thinkers and follow a variety of perspectives on an issue without being quite so intimidated. Still, I find that I can’t handle angry, cutting dialogue, which seems to attack the person being disagreed with. So, there are conversations I’m interested in, but cannot follow because the intensity is so great I can’t hear the discussion. That’s not  a criticism, because obviously many other people can follow and participate in those conversations. But, it does mean that when I find a place where I can listen in to deep discussions and even disagreements without feeling intimidated and overwhelmed, it is wonderful. 

That is how I feel when I read John Hobbins’ Ancient Hebrew Poetry and Peter Kirk’s Gentle Wisdom. I couldn’t say what percentage of the conversations that take place there I totally understand. But, it is enough that I keep going back to have my brain stirred and challenged. And most importantly, I feel comfortable reading their sites, because of the humility and kindness which seems to undergird their strong opinions and disagreements.

I hesitate to link from this post to their blogs, because when I express this kind of appreciation, which I feel deeply and genuinely, it seems easily perceived as sappy and overly sentimental. To say nothing of, I’m paranoid of having my motives questioned as if I’m linking to their blogs to up my own traffic. I am not competitive. I could care less about technorati rankings. But I’m deeply moved at the moment by what I appreciate about these two blogs, and I wanted to try to put it into words, even though I’m aware that the above assumptions could be made.

Something I saw in a book my son is reading (Across Five Aprils, by Irene Hunt, set in the time of the War Between the States) made me think of how I feel sometimes following these two blogs, and the appreciation I have for the powerful, but gentle ways in which deep thinking and discussion take place there.

One of the characters, Jethro, while helping his mom hoe the garden, is telling her all about what he learned in school–how it was proven that the earth is not the center of the universe. His mother is not quite sure what to make of all of that. 

His mother looked thoughtful. “The Lord God created the earth and all upon it, Jeth. I don’t like to hear that His work warn’t of the best.”

“But don’t you see, Ma, He created the sun and moon and stars, too–some a little bigger, others maybe a little purtier. Seems like people on earth believed we had the best diggin’s jest because we wanted to believe that–because it made us feel important–” . . . .

Her eyes lighted a little. “Well, you done me a favor, tellin’ me things I ain’t never learned and givin’ me somethin’ to ponder over. It ‘mazes me, Jeth, it does fer a fact, the way you kin recollect all the things Shad tells you and how you kin put them from his way of talkin’ into mine.”

Like Jethro’s mother, I deeply appreciate John and Peter’s speaking their intellect in humble ways that do not  block me from hearing and understanding the things that I’m able to. I appreciate their graciousness, which doesn’t feel patronizing. Since I easily feel patronized, that is a big deal to me. (And I’m really hoping my point isn’t misunderstood  or either of them feel insulted by the analogy I’m making with this quote.)

Well, the next few paragraphs after the above quote don’t really fit into what I’ve been trying to say on this post, but I like the rest of the dialogue too much not to include it here:

She hoed in silence for a minute and then paid him the great compliment of going back to his story.  

“Did you tell me what that old feller’s name was, the one that done all the figgerin’?”

“His name was Copernicus. I kin even spell it fer you if you’re a mind. Shad made me learn how to say it and spell it too.”

“Sounds like a furriner.”

Jethro nodded. “I allow,” he agreed.

Ellen sighed, “Seems like furriners is allus stirrin’ up somethin’. Well, the pot can’t call the kettle black–look what we’re stirrin’ up amongst ourselves.”

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Lover of words that I am, that one has rolled pleasantly around inside of my head since I first heard it. It is the name of a new blog, a spin-off of Better Bibles Blog.

I like the word for how it sounds. And I also like it because I think it more or less describes my position in the complementarian/egalitarian discussion. You could take that to mean one of several things:

1.  Eclexia is very balanced. She shies away from the pitfalls of either extreme. (Ah yes, that would be a lovely conclusion to come to  🙂  )

2.  Eclexia is very compromising. She avoids taking a strong stand and instead waffles around in the middle, neither hot nor cold, and so is about to be spewed out (a double-minded man–oops, woman–unstable in all her ways.)

3.  Eclexia is very unconfident and full of self-doubt. She’s afraid to state any view strongly and confidently, because that might invite somebody to disagree with her.

4.  Eclexia thinks if these things have been being argued about by great scholars who read and understand the original languages better than she can ever dream of, she’s probably not going to figure it out, so she might as well stay open to hearing both sides, thinking deeply about what she hears, learning from the whole discussion, but  setting aside the need to come to any firm or final conclusions.

Number 4 is the way I choose to apply the word to myself. I had to throw in #3, because I often am labeled as unconfident and full of self-doubt, but I think those labels seriously misunderstand and underestimate me. And if they are accurate labels, well, I also don’t happen to think self-doubt or lack of confidence are as serious of flaws as they are often cracked up to be. (So, even if I don’t have enough confidence and have too much doubt, my self-image can handle being that way  🙂  )

I don’t like arguing with people about topics like this, not because I’m afraid as much as (1) the intensity can overwhelm me to the point where I can hardly hear what I think and feel about what’s being said and (2) I don’t find arguments to be especially productive for me, although I know some people find them invaluable as part of the process of fleshing out their theology or politics or other major opinions!

All that to say, I’ll probably follow along with the discussion at Complegalitarian, but not engage in too much of the dialogue.

However, from the safety of my own blog, where I can be clear on the fact that I’m not making a statement about anything or either side, but rather reflecting out loud, I wanted to mention a library book we ended up with this week (my children and I wander aimlessly around the library, randomly and eclectically picking up books, so we always arrive home with quite a variety.)

This particular book is called How the Amazon Queen Fought the Prince of Egypt, and inside the front cover, in large letters is this question, “Can Woman Ever Conquer Man?”   What’s this? Some sort of modern day feminist allegory? Well, actually, the book is loosely taken from a story on the papyrus scroll titled “Egyptians and Amazons”.

Even if you don’t like the story, you’ve got to love (well, if you’re a language lover like me) the hieroglyphs. Most of the pages have a phrase from the story printed at the bottom in three levels: 1st the hieroglyphs, then the transliteration and finally a literal translation into English. My 4 year old loved looking for similar glyphs in the two phrases on each page. The hieroglyphs with literal translations would be a fun first linguistics lesson, figuring out some of the rules of Egyptian grammar, noticing what symbols combine to make others, etc.

On the first page are these words, “There the Amazon women lived free, without men. They rode horses and hunted and were happy at their will.” Hmmm, it should be interesting to see where this story goes (I hadn’t read it before we set down to read it together).  My 12-year-old, lover of non-fiction, immediately said, “Mom, this story is crazy–you could never have a land of just women, because how would they reproduce?”

The story goes on to talk about how the Prince of Egypt comes and the two  nations engage in war. “Each Amazon fought like ten men. The Egyptians dropped their weapons and fled.” The prince of Egypt wasn’t fighting that first day. As he stood atop a hill and watched what was happening, he became enraged: “Women defeating my soldiers? No! Tomorrow this army of women will suffer a painful defeat. It will be beautiful after the bitterness of today.”

That night as he partakes of rich food and strong drink, he decides that the next day he and the Queen of the Amazons must engage in single combat (in case you wanted to know how to say “single combat” in Ancient Egyptian, you learn that it would be “er aha wa irem ef”. )

There is some heavy insulting and cursing at the beginning of the battle: “…you worm…You will be to me as an insect in the mouth of a bird. I will smash your face into your neck. I will break your legs into your heels!” The reply comes back, “…you will flee from me as a gazelle from a lion! Your limbs will weaken. Your knees will tremble.” (You’ll have to read it to see who gives which insult. Any guesses?)

At the end of a long day of fighting, the Queen suggests that they stop fighting and the prince agrees that fighting shouldn’t  happen after dark. The Queen then asks the prince why he came to the Land of Women. And from here, the story takes a twist that caught me by surprise. And yes, this is a spoiler warning, so if you want to read it yourself, stop here and go check the book out.

Here’s the Prince’s response, “I heard stories of the Land of Women who fight. And I came here to see your Amazon warriors with my own eyes. I never believed women could conquer man….Now I am so moved by the courage and strength of you and your woman warriors that I will put down my sword and stand by your side.”

The narrator pipes up with, “It was then that Prince Pedikhons looked at Queen Serpot and saw that she was his equal. And he did not know where on Earth he was, from the great love that entered into him.” (In Egyptian, that last phrase would be, “em-djer ta merut aat nety ak en im ef” or “because of love great which entered in to him.“) “And it was then that Queen Serpot looked at the prince and saw that he was her equal. And she did not know where on Earth she was, from the great love that entered into her. And later Serpot and Peikhons made an alliance and conquered India together.”

The End.

At the end of the book is a section that tells the history of this story, another explaining Hieroglyphs and the fact that the transliterations are really best guesses. This section also clarifies that the story was originally written in Demotic, not hieroglyphs. Finally there is a section explaining the symbolism of the paintings in the book.

Well, I offer no great conclusions or applications or points from the story (well, okay, one point–I never have gotten the whole business of conquering. I know “everybody does it”, but I still don’t like it! I was sad that once they got over the need to conquer each other’s nation, that the benefit of their alliance was being able to conquer India.) I did think, however,  it was a fun and interesting read that fit rather nicely into the part of my brain that looks forward to following along with the discussion at Complegalitarian.

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Well, I know my identity is rather obscure to most of my readers. There are several reasons, including wanting privacy because of some circumstances I have been through recently. But I’ve also been thinking that, even if those circumstances were different, I’d probably still like to blog more or less anonymously.  Iyov said something a while ago that resonated with me:

I post here anonymously. I don’t do it to be mysterious, but because I simply wish to have a forum separate from my “regular life” where I can speak purely about ideas — in a way that won’t make my friends, colleagues, and acquaintances uncomfortable.

So, even though I won’t tell you who I am (unless we strike up a one-on-one conversation by email :), I decided to tell you a little bit about Eclexia. Wayne’s post at Better Bible Blogs gave me the push to try to figure out again how to post my personality badge. Lingamish gave me instructions on how to do it. I’m so happy I was able to post something in HTML code, that I’m posting it again here:

Click to view my Personality Profile page

To quote Larry the Cucumber, when he first got a glimpse of the new neighborhood StuffMart: “What’s it mean?!?!”


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