Friday, March 23, 2012

spring blahs

We're off on vacation tomorrow.  We're headed to Southern California with another family.  Originally we were going to do some of the SoCal tourist-y things, but everyone's so wiped out that we may not do anything but sit on the beach.  I'll let you know how it goes.
I've had a rough week.  I've talked to several other people who have had similar weeks.  Maybe it really was the solar flares, or maybe we're all just damn tired of cold, wet, gray, miserable weather.  It's almost time for my annual post about how it's not winter that I hate around here, it's spring.  Winter is as it's supposed to be, but spring is just another three months of winter.  We won't even get green grass for another five or six weeks.

So have a great week and I will post pics when I return.  There, now that I've promised that, I'll have to find something to take a picture of. :-)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Lent: rebel without a cause

So you might have noticed that I have a problem with authority.  It's one of the main reasons I can't diet-- just go ahead and try to tell me what to eat.  You're not the boss of me.  *sigh*  I have this damn rebellious streak and it's a mile wide and it is the biggest pain in the ass.  For example, it severely limits the number of jobs I can have, because I simply cannot work for someone I don't respect.  At my last job (where I worked for a wonderful woman who was not a problem), the employees were still talking about the previous boss, who was a problem.  The stories were awful.  I asked one of them one day, so why did you stay?  And she shrugged and said, "I figured I'd outlast her."  And she did.  But I wouldn't have made it six weeks working for that woman.  I would have given up a great job with great benefits because I could not take orders from someone I didn't think deserved to be able to give them.

A couple of weeks ago I told you I decided it was time to start re-thinking Christianity again. [note from AB: the first draft of this post was written over a month ago.] I hate these posts because I worry that they make me sound like some kind of religious fanatic, and I guess I am in some ways, but just not in the way you'd think.  But like I said, it won't go away.

So of course I immediately started looking around for a book to read, because when I need to think about something, that's what I do.  I read.  We were in the middle of packing up the house, and Dean would have just gone ahead and pulled out all my fingernails if I bought any new books.  I lost count of how many boxes of books we packed.  So I started poking around in the books I already had and found one that someone gave me several years ago, Flesh and Blood Jesus:  Learning to Be Fully Human From the Son of Man.  It's by a guy that I heard speak a number of times when I was in college, and I liked him very much.  It was a place to start.

The first couple of chapters were pretty standard stuff.  There were a few new insights mixed in with some fairly run-of-the-mill interpretations.  But then I got to chapter 4, which was on Jesus' attitude toward authority.  And the author had some interesting things to say.  He pointed out that Jesus didn't always react to authority in the way that you'd expect.  And he didn't always react the same way.  He had a variety of options.  I do, too.  (*light bulb*)

1.  Jesus and his mom at the wedding in Cana (John 2.1-11).  The hosts are running out of wine.  Jesus' mom pulls him aside and tells him to take care of the problem.  Remember, we're doing the "Bible as Literature" thing here and interpreting the story within its own confines; we're not questioning whether or not it is factual or "true."  (I have no idea whether or not it's true.)  In the story, Mary knows that Jesus can do something about the problem.  (How does she know? has he been practicing his miracles around the house?)  Jesus doesn't want to.  This is early in his career, and he's not ready for people to know that he can do party tricks.  But she confidently tells the servants to do whatever Jesus tells them to do.  And he does.  He turns water into wine, and it's good wine, and the party is saved.  The entire story is less than 300 words, but there are a number of telling little details.  Her confidence that he can fix the problem; his willingness to do what she asks in spite of his initial reluctance-- I read it as amused respect and trust between the two of them.  They know each other.  There is no power struggle going on here.  I want you to do this.  But I don't want to.  Yeah, but I really want you to do this.  Okay, then, I'll do it.

2.  Render unto Caesar.  The Jews were expecting a political Messiah.  They were an oppressed people; their country had been taken over by the Romans.  They are looking for a Messiah who will deliver them from political oppression.  But Jesus' agenda never included politics.  He didn't lead rebellions; he didn't plan midnight raids on the barracks. When the local Jewish leaders ask him if they should pay taxes to the Romans, it is a loaded question.  If he says yes, his fellow Jews will be disappointed; if he says no, then they can turn him over to the Roman authorities for inciting insurrection. Jesus does neither.  He asks for a coin, and holding it out, shows them Caesar's profile on the coin.  Give Caesar the things that are Caesar's.  Give God the things that are God's.  He didn't get his back up, he didn't unthinkingly rebel against authority.  He used his brain and came up with a different way to respond.

3.  Jesus in the temple.  There was an entire superstructure in place at the Jerusalem temple that revolved around selling animals for sacrifice to people who were visiting the temple.  It must have been quite profitable for those doing the selling.  But it angered Jesus.  He responded swiftly and violently; he wades in and overturns tables, throws money boxes, sets the animals free.  Interesting that he doesn't rebel against the government, but he reacts violently against religious hypocrisy, yes?  Let the political leaders do their thing.  Vote your conscience, say your piece, but political power is not important in the long view of things. But mess with my temple, and your ass is grass.

See what I mean?  My version of rebellion is knee-jerk.  Some diet guru tries to tell me what I can eat?  I DON'T THINK SO.  Some flunky higher up the corporate ladder wants me to spend two days wasting time on corporate bureaucracy?  HOW ARE YOU GOING TO MAKE ME?  Anybody tries to tell me what to do, I get pissed.

But Jesus was thoughtful.  He had more than one option, and he chose his response based on the situation. I'm working on it.

Monday, March 19, 2012

(place holder)

I didn't mean to disappear, I really was going to post the next day.  Best laid plans and all that.  Nell is here until Wednesday, so I'll be back later in the week.  I've been really out of sorts.  Let's blame it on the solar flares, shall we?

And I should have let you all help me pick the bathroom color.  I got it all done and decided I don't like the color.  So now I'm trying to figure out if I can live with it.  It's only a shade off of what I wanted.  dammit.  If I just wait a couple of weeks, I probably won't even notice it, right?  I really don't want to do it again.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Things I hate

Debbie posted yesterday about things she hates or refuses to do, and it got me thinking.  So I'm putting off the post I don't want to write yet another day by putting up my list.  I'm not numbering it because they're not in order.

Going to the post office.  We have the nicest postal employees.  There is rarely a line (except in December).  But I hate going.  I don't know why.  Stuff that requires a trip to the PO can go weeks without being mailed.

Raisin Bread.  I know.  Everyone loves raisin bread.  But for some reason it gives me the heeby-jeebies.  Can't stand the stuff.  Bread should not have sweet sticky things in it.  This is also possibly affected by my dislike of raisins.  but I don't hate raisins, just don't really care for them.  I hate raisin bread.  and fruitcake.  Same idea.

Milk.  I've never been able to drink milk, even as a kid.  It's OK on cereal or in hot chocolate or a latté (though if I have a choice, I choose soymilk), but a glass of milk straight?  the thought makes me shudder.

Artificial sweeteners in food.  (I said "in food" because you know about me and Diet Dr. Pepper.)

Honey roast turkey meat.  American cheese.  Oysters.  Brussel sprouts.  Licorice and anything licorice or anise-flavored (although, oddly, I'm starting to come around on the whole fennel question).

Stiletto heels.  They look great.  Can't wear 'em.

We could have an entire sub-category here for traffic, but I'll confine myself to waiting through more than one cycle of a traffic light.  Oh, and stupid drivers.  Don't get me started.

Purses with no pockets or dividers, so your stuff falls into one big black pit. (I found these great purse organizers on Etsy.  They are awesome.  So this is not as big a problem as it once was.)

Talking on the phone.  Have I ever posted about that? It's like a phobia.  I get on the phone, and I can't get off fast enough.  It often comes across as very rude.  There are occasional exceptions to this, but generally, I will go to great lengths to avoid having to talk on the phone.  Texting, on the other hand-- oh my word do I love texting.  Do you know how many phone calls it saves me??

That's all I can think of at the moment.  What are yours?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The. Shower.

I'm feeling remarkably uninspired today, so you get pictures instead of words.  Here is the shower, with the tile all done, but no fixtures (yet).  That's tomorrow, I hope.  The flash washed out the colors a bit, it's not quite as bland looking as this.  I was going to let you guys help me pick the paint color for the rest of the bathroom, but the colors didn't turn out at all, so I guess I will have to just throw a dart. :-)

you can see the fiberglass pan that we had to do for the floor-- tile would have been too heavy, or so we're told.  The glass door won't arrive for TWO WEEKS, dang it, so I may just go get one of those cheapo shower rods.  But it's just about done!  woot!!

I did a bit of renovating here at AB3, too.  I'm not sure I like it, so if you don't, let me know and it will probably change back.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Riffday: taking it slow

I'm feeling the need to post, but I don't really have anything to say (will start up more interesting posts again next week), so this will turn into a Riffday post, even though I just posted one earlier this week.  But I'm just riffin', it's all I can do today.

1.  The procedure-which-shall-not-be-named that I had done earlier this week was no problem to get through, and I felt fine Wednesday night.  But yesterday I was wiped-- headache-y from the drugs, tired, and a bit sore in the middle if you know what I mean.  Not exactly in pain, just tender.  On the plus side, I wasn't hungry, which made three days in a row of not eating much food.  It makes me a little bit disgusted that I'm happy about that.  All that blather about "I'm not in this to lose weight, I'm in it to be more healthy" is just bullshit sometimes.  *sigh*

2.  I haven't tried my new drug yet so can't report on it.  I thought it was better to wait to start it until I recover from the-procedure-which-shall-not-be-named. Maybe tomorrow.

3.  Another in the series of observations about e-readers:  I've discovered another downside to e-readers, which would apply to any of them, I think.  I can't remember the books.  I was going to review several that I read over the break, but when I pulled out my Kindle and looked at the list of names, I couldn't remember what a single one of them was about.  If I had a book with a picture on the cover, I'd remember.  So.  I know I told some of you I'd post some reviews, but I'm going to have to change my method to do it.  Eventually it will happen, in the place where these things happen.

4.  We live in an area with very hard water, with a high mineral content.  We have a water softener, but it can only do so much.  So we used to go through a coffee maker about every year or so.  And once I quit drinking coffee (other than the occasional decaf), we ended up throwing out half a pot of coffee every day after Dean was done.  So a couple of years ago, on a whim, I bought him a Keurig for Christmas, which makes a single cup of coffee at a time.  We love it.  It makes great coffee, and it also makes tea (peppermint! chamomile!) and MadMax uses it for hot water for hot chocolate and various other things that need hot water. 

So why am I telling you this?  Because I can't think of anything else to tell you about, mostly, but there is something new:  a couple of months ago, I discovered a decaf that actually tastes as good as regular coffee.  It's like a miracle.  I had to wait till Dean ran out of his favorite before I could order more, but our new shipment came bright and early this morning, and I'm sitting here sipping Tully's French Roast Decaf and I am happy.

5.  I'm reading Moby Dick.  You hear the most awful things about it.  I arranged my entire undergraduate career as an English major to avoid having to read it because I'd heard it was so boring.  But then I did read it in [my first shot at] grad school, and I loved it.  It's fascinating.  It's next up in this class on the novel, and I'm about 50 pages in.  I still love it.  I don't know why people think it's so awful.  It's not a quick read, and you probably don't want to take it to the beach, but after you get past the setup, what's not to like?  great story, great characters, narrator with a snide sense of humor.  and we're spending three weeks on it, so I don't even have to finish it by Monday.  yay.

6.  My thesis, on the other hand, is not going so well.  It's not going badly, it's just that it's too easy to forget about it.  I meet with my thesis adviser* occasionally, but other than that, I'm on my own.  I need somebody to force me to do it.  I'm making progress, but it's going far more slowly than it should be.  (at this point, I'm just reading, haven't started writing yet, although I have the 18-page paper I wrote last semester as a starting point.) (*I think it should be "advisor" but Blogger is telling me that is spelled wrong.  whatever.)

7.  Shower update.  They're actually here!  Tile is being installed!  I think they will be done putting the tile up today, and then Monday or Tuesday the plumber will come and hook everything up, and then I will paint, and then the carpenter will come back and put up the trim, and then we will have two bathrooms!  The end is in sight. 

I was going to blatantly steal the 7 Quick Takes idea from Debbie, but I have an 8th, so oops.  8) 95% of my books are in boxes over at the storage unit.  Dean won't let me have them until we finish unpacking all the other boxes.  He is wise, that Dean.  He knows that once the boxes of books get here, I will spend hours arranging them to the neglect of everything else.  There's so much to consider.  Type of book, era, author, frequency of use, color and size and how they look on the shelf, how much I love them... it's endless.  And far more important than whether or not dinner is made, don't you think?

9.  Well, this just goes on and on, doesn't it?  MadMax takes his drivers test tomorrow-- he doesn't get his official license then, but if he passes it, and then logs (50? 90?) hours of driving with one of us in the car, THEN he can get his license.  We are both ready for it to be over.

Ten?  can I think of another?  nope.  Have a nice weekend.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

4letter word: slather some margarine on that wonder bread

(** WARNING ** This possibly comes under the heading of Too Much Information, so if you don't care that much about my health, just move right along. I won't even notice you're gone, because ... well, you'd have to read it to find out. ha.)

So today, my doctor's orders are that I can eat white bread, white-meat chicken, chicken noodle soup without vegetables, tub margarine, 1 or 2 eggs, and nilla wafers.  That's up until 2:00.  After that, I can have jello that isn't red or purple, hard candies, gatorade, honey, sugar, and clear liquids.  Lots and lots of clear liquids.  and that's it until tomorrow at 9:00 a.m.

Is that not the nuttiest diet you've ever heard?  But it's just for 24 hours, because tomorrow I'm going in for a colonoscopy.  They're recommended when you hit 50.  If you're not in a medical family, you can probably ignore this, but I am, so I'm doing my duty and going.  I'll let you know how it is, but I promise to spare the details.  I bet Debbie knows what I have to do tonight, but I'm polite, so I'm not talking about it.  Just be assured that you will almost certainly have a more pleasant evening than I will.

So, that's not technically about the 4-letter word (diet).  The 4-letter word update is that I had my checkup with my regular doctor today (it's medical week here at Chez BeaN).  You may remember that last fall my cholesterol was WAY too high and my doctor gave me six months to try to get it down through diet and exercise.

DRUM ROLL, PLEASE............

The good news is that I lost four pounds, and since I gained weight over the holidays, that is even better than it sounds.  Since I'm in this for the long-haul, that is great.  I don't want to starve myself to lose ten pounds in three months and then gain it all back when I go back to eating normally.  I want to learn better eating habits, and I really do eat more healthily now.  So a 4-lb loss tells me that this will work eventually.  I just have to keep doing what I'm doing. 

The bad news is that my cholesterol did. not. change.  In fact, it was slightly higher-- 264.  And my bad cholesterol is up, from 178 to 185.  Without completely re-vamping my life so that all I do is exercise and fix raw foods, I don't see how I could do any more with diet and exercise to combat this.  The doc says this is clearly genetic, and since at least one of my sisters has high cholesterol, too, it's not a huge surprise.

So I have to start taking a statin.  I'm kind of bummed about this.  But if I don't like it, if the side effects are bad or it doesn't do any good, then I can stop.  No one is holding a gun to my head.  Dean says that statins are no big deal and I'm being a baby to dread it (well, he didn't say that, but he might possibly have inferred it). 

So that's it for me.  I'm off to eat another piece of white bread before 2 p.m.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

night sky: you gotta see this

We had a crazy day today, which left me with no time for exercise.  But I was all keyed up at 9:30, so we went for a night-time walk.  I love to walk at night.  While we were walking, there were two bright lights in the western sky-- so bright that we couldn't figure out if they were satellites catching the last of the sunset, or planes coming in from Seattle, or what.  So when I got home, I went to this site, and discovered that Jupiter and Venus are, ahem, in conjunction this month (sounds like I know what I'm talking about, doesn't it?  but I don't, that came straight off that website), and they are both at their brightest in quite awhile.  The show last all month.  If you catch it right after sunset (which we didn't), you can see Mercury just before it sets, too.  And to top it all off, Mars will be rising in the East.  (It was too cloudy in the East to see that one, though.)  Check it out, it's worth a look.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Getting angry doesn't solve anything*

*quote from a Grace Kelly movie, and also part of the lyrics of the Mika song "Grace Kelly."  I disagree, because sometimes getting angry is a good thing.  It just seemed like a good post title, especially if you can hear Grace Kelly in your head, saying that in her lovely voice.  She could say anything and I'd nod my head.

Anyway.  I'm bad at anger.  I never know what to do with it.  When I was a kid, it was the 60s, and we had pretty much a standard, patriarchal authoritarian household.  My mom says now that she argued with my dad when they were alone, but we never saw them argue.  I never (in my memory) heard her even disagree with him.  Dad was allowed to get angry, and he often was, but we were not.

When I was in my 20s, I could get boiling mad over watching the news or various unfair situations in the world or the larger community.  A therapist pointed out to me one time that this is a way of sublimating anger about other things; you're afraid to express anger about things in your personal life, so you vent your rage by getting very angry about situations you can't do anything about.  Interesting, yes?

So I slowly started working on expressing anger.  Twenty-five years later, I'm not sure I've made all that much progress.  I've moved on from fuming in silence to a) furious hissing or b) occasional screeching.  Big progress right?  ha.  But it's better than just bottling it all up.

I read a magazine article one time-- it was just one of those one-page deals in some women's magazine like Ladies' Home Journal-- that was a big help.  It said to use anger as a tool to figure out what is wrong, but not to act out of anger.  Wait until you're cooled off, and then you can reflect on what pissed you off and decide what to do about it.

Several of us were involved in a situation in an online community a few weeks ago.  It made me very angry, which surprised me a bit, because I haven't been nearly as involved in that community as some others that seemed relatively un-fazed by what happened.  I knew I needed to cool off, so I walked away for a couple of weeks.

I was surprised and delighted to find yesterday, when I had to briefly communicate with the admin folks at that website, that I've pretty much moved on.  The anger was mostly gone.  I can stir it back up again if I start obsessing over what happened, but why do that?  I like them.  I don't want to be angry with them.  I don't think I need to hang out there anymore, but I'm glad I'm not still seething.  Yay.  Sometimes you do the right thing without really knowing you're doing it.

But that's a relatively impersonal situation.  When there's something at stake-- peace in our house, for one thing-- anger is still a tough one for me.  So the main point of this post is to ask:  What do you do when you're mad?  not mad about the environment or the political scene, but mad at your spouse or your kids or one of your co-workers?  what are some strategies for coping with anger?

Friday, March 02, 2012

Riffday: tmi again

You know, I still can't figure out what I was trying to say yesterday, although it did occur to me as I was driving around that I was mixing up "sources of inspiration" and "defining my beliefs."  So I will keep thinking about that over the weekend and see if I can clarify it another time.

So time for a break, because I'm just confusing myself with those posts. 

House update:  The amazing, miracle-working carpenter who has been working for us since October may be done today.  We are going to have him back out in a couple of months to do some built-in bookshelves, etc. but our budget has to recover first.  He's been here long enough that he's like a member of the family.  I don't even blink anymore when he sees me in all my pre-shower, pre-contacts glory.  Probably he would say that his main accomplishment here has been patching and repairing the drywall in the entire house, including completely re-doing several places down to the studs, and then texturing and painting the whole thing.

But my favorite thing he did was done over a month ago-- pulling out all the old thick, chocolate-brown trim and flimsy doors, and replacing them with beautiful lightened-up, solid wood stuff.  We went with either alder or hemlock, I can't remember which, so not high-end, but still it is such a vast improvement.  The use of the word "chocolate" might have made the old stuff sound appealing, but it was not--and it was not only the baseboards and door frames, but there was a chair rail of it.  I wish I'd thought to take pictures, but that never occurs to me.  Here is a corner of the main hallway with the new stuff.  That little half-size door on the left is the only closet in the house besides the bedroom closets.

Our shower still isn't done.  But the plumber is coming to re-install the new base on Monday, and the tile guy is coming on Tuesday, so maybe (*fingers and toes crossed*) by the end of next week we will have a functional bathroom.

Drivers Ed update:  MadMax is taking surprisingly well to driving.  I haven't driven with him since that first time, but he has gone from being terrified to finding it interesting and a little bit enjoyable (although he is thankfully still cautious).  The driving age in Montana is 15, so the kids can take drivers ed at 14 1/2.  He will not be getting his license as soon as he turns 15, but we just wanted to get drivers ed over with.  You can't miss a day, so we didn't want to do it in the summer, and it is really nice to let someone else teach your kid how to drive on snow-packed roads, anyway.  Once he has the certificate that says he completed the class, we can figure out exactly when he gets his license later.

But we will both be glad when the class is over.  We used to swap driving the kids to school with some neighbors, but now that we've moved, I'm driving him to school every day.  The drivers ed class is at the high school, so I have to pick him up at three and take him to the high school every day, and then go back and pick him up from the high school at 5:30.  If it was every once in awhile, it would be no big deal, but a month of it is getting really old fast.

One of my new "friends" on Fitocracy mentioned MyFitnessPal, which is a different place for recording exercise.  Actually, it's mainly a place to keep a food diary.  I've tried food diaries in the past with no success-- I do great for a couple of days, then I start forgetting about it, and by the time a week is up, I'm done.  But this is better.  I suppose it says something about how easily I am entertained that I find it much more fun to click on my food entries than to write it down in a notebook.  Plus, when I signed up I said I only wanted to lose a half-pound a week, so they gave me 1650-ish calories a day.  Then, when you exercise and record it, it adds calories.  So I get around 1900 calories a day, and I'm finding to my surprise that that is totally do-able.  1900 calories is a lot of food-- but still less than I was eating a month ago, so maybe this is a good solution.  I decided yesterday I'm going to stick with Fitocracy until I get to Level 10 (I should level up to 9 today) because I have my pride, after all.  But then I'm dumping it.  I'm not enough of an exercise snob for the macho crowd at Fitocracy.

So what else can I bore you with?  Anne Stuart recommended Judith Ivory on her blog a couple of months ago, so I tried Untie My Heart last week and loved it.  It's a grifters story-- conning a bad guy to get back the money he stole-- which I sometimes don't enjoy.  It's one thing to exact appropriate revenge, another thing to consider yourself above the law.  But the characters in this one are so appealing that I was able to overlook that.  Recommended.

Also am re-reading Wuthering Heights for the first time since undergrad.  As Karen said the other day in the comments, the characters are awful.  Not a likable person in the bunch.  But I'm still finding it interesting.  All I remembered from before was a vague idea about the frame story, and then CATHERINE AND HEATHCLIFF.  But this time I'm actually finding Mr. Lockwood and Nelly Dean to be more interesting than the history relayed-- not necessarily as characters, but just in the way they serve as foils for the more passionate story, and the complex way Brontë uses them to skew the point of view.

And that, my friends, is everything I can bore you with for today.  This is the kind of post that Nell teases about-- (Hi, Nell!) -- why would I want to know that you stood in line at the post office today?  Sorry about that, but it's all I've got today.  We got about half an inch of snow last night, so everything is pristine white again, and the sun is out.  For the moment.  It's a beautiful day.  Hope you have a good one.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Lent: the chicken or the egg

Another thing we talked about in that Jane Austen class is the impossibility in our era of being sincere.  If you're aware of being sincere, you automatically aren't; and if you are truly being what once would have been called "sincere," it has a tendency in our postmodern world to come across as naïveté, a lack of understanding of what reality is like.  It seems sweet and maybe a little bit stupid.
Which is how I feel about that last post.  I don't think sincerity works too well when talking about religious issues, at least not for me.  Because there are so many ways that sincere religious belief can be used to manipulate, coerce, manage, and otherwise accomplish Bad Things.  Once you're aware of that, it becomes almost impossible to talk about what you believe and have it mean anything.

So why the hell am I writing these posts, and isn't that a good question.  But I am.  So today's topic is how you know what you believe ('you' being not you, gentle reader, but some mysterious average person out there).  Judeo-Christians and Muslims are "people of the book," although the book they're people of varies-- Christians rely on their Bible, Jews on the Tanakh and the Talmud, Muslims on the Koran/Qur'an-- and I'm not Jewish or Muslim, so forgive me if I didn't get that precisely right.  In those belief systems, especially among the conservatives, in order to define what you believe, you refer back to The Book.

Which leads to vigorous debate over the precise nature of The Book-- who wrote the text(s) and how did they know what to write?  were they divinely inspired, or writing out of their own experience? were they eyewitnesses of the events they recorded?  have the texts been edited, and if so, should we try to sift through that editing back to some shadowy "original" that pre-existed the current text?  how should the text(s) be translated? and that's just getting started.  You could go on and on, and if that stuff interests you, years of study await you.  It's a huge field.

I find it fascinating in small doses, but almost completely unrelated to what happens when I sit down and read a sacred text.  The veracity of it, the actual "factual" fidelity to some historical event, is irrelevant.  I wrote a series of posts about this a few years ago (they are here, if you want them in order, start at the bottom and read "up"), so I'm not going to belabor the point at the moment.

I learned one way of reading sacred texts when I took a (secular) university course in "The Bible as Literature" a few years ago.  The professor encouraged us to read the stories in the Bible as if they were literally stories, with God and Moses, or David and Bathsheba, or Jesus and the Disciples, as characters who exist only in the text. It's an entirely different way of reading (compared to what I was raised with).  Take a story (or series of stories) like the Israelites wandering around in the wilderness for 40 years.  We always read God in those stories as being, you know, GOD.  A pre-existing Divine Being who was the same as the "God" we sang hymns to at church, pledged allegiance to, and sang about in "God Bless America."  But if God in those passages is just another character in the story, one that has temper tantrums and gets his feelings hurt, the stories read quite a bit differently.  They're a lot more entertaining to read that way, for one thing.

Ack.  I keep getting further and further away from the point I wanted to make when I sat down to type.  Which is that I think the way I was raised to think about my beliefs is the opposite of what makes sense.  I was taught to take some external standard (the Bible, a sermon, the instructions of my parents) and match my beliefs up to that standard.  What I've come to believe is that the opposite makes more sense:  you figure out what you believe, and then find a way to think about it that makes sense.  No, that's not exactly it.  how to say this???

OK.  Take that last post.  The end of it turned out to be something I learned about accepting love, feeling loved.  The text-- the story of the rich young ruler--was a vehicle that gave me a new insight into that.  But it wouldn't have to be a text from the Bible that led to the insight.  It could be Pema Chodron, or watching Finding Nemo, or observing a friend cradle her toddler.  Heck, sometimes I think that's why I enjoy romance novels-- I  tend to define myself as not lovable, and reading a romance novel allows me to vicariously experience the feeling of being loved, breaking down that resistance to feeling loved.

I bet this isn't making the slightest bit of sense, because I can't figure out exactly what I'm trying to say, either.  It's entirely possible that this whole dang post has been just another way of saying the same thing that I said in the one on cherry-picking.  Eclectic belief systems, part 2.  *feels somewhat dejected*  I don't think I made it to the place I was trying to go.  Let me know if you have any idea, and maybe I'll try again another day.