Sunday, November 30, 2008

Progress Report

Yes, I'm still blogging. Though it may be sporadic for the month of December since I will be working hard to finish The Enclave by the beginning of January. I've already decided to postpone our annual Christmas trip to California until February (since there's really no way I could work at the level I'll need to be then from a hotel room). I am not thinking about all I have to do, or how it's going to be done. I am relying totally on the Lord to see it done. (The alternative is mindless panic, stress, guilt, sin, frustration. Did I mention panic??)

"For it is God who is at work at you both to will (proper motivation) and to execute for His good pleasure.

I will cry to God most High; to God who accomplishes all things for me.

Faithful is He who has called you and He will also bring it to pass."

I'm taking him at his word, claiming these promises utterly.

Classes lately have been all about not being occupied with sins and failures, not trying to do better and fix ourselves, but to fix our eyes upon Jesus, who is seated at the right hand of the Father, and the fact that we are seated there with Him, positionally. When you claim this fact and look down at it all as finished, that does change things.

The other thing to focus on is doing His will, not mine. I'm not going to worry about whether I'm failing to be diligent or self-disciplined. That's God's problem, because those are fruits of the Spirit not the fruits of Karen.

Staying home from the conference as great and I am more certain than ever that's what I was to do. This last holiday, Thanksgiving, though, I did not work a lick, beyond a random hour here or there to consider the next sequence, which for awhile seemed hopelessly wrong without alternative. (I am currently working on chapter 25, which in the "first" draft was chapter 19).

Thanksgiving day also completely wiped me out. I was a zombie on Friday, and really sore on Saturday, especially in my hip joints (possibly from being pulled to the ground in the attempt to restrain Quigley the night before). That made it hard to sit and concentrate. There were myriads of other distractions as well, since my son was staying with us (ie, in my writing room). Granted he was not in the writing room all that much of the time, but just having him here, and all the other things going on made it hard to focus. Plus it's hard to focus when you're a zombie.

Tomorrow (Monday) I have only to go across town to pick up my replacement sunglasses clip, which was ordered a month and half ago, I think, got lost in the cracks and came in last week. That could work into a good time of thinking. We'll see.

As soon as I finish this blog post I'm going to turn my attention to The Enclave, and maybe do something easy like put in changes on an earlier chapter. We still have dinner and Quigley walking to do, too. Oh, and ironing...


Thursday, November 20, 2008

How Obama Got Elected

Hey! I'm actually focusing on writing. It's still slow going, but a lot of stuff is happening in the places where I am. If that makes any sense.

So. Short blog posts or, in this case, a video are the order of the day. I first saw this a couple of days ago. Some say it's about "stupid" Obama voters, but I think it's more a picture of the influence of the media, the state of our culture today, and something of an indictment on our public educational system, which I don't think stresses the importance of knowing what's going on, how government works, etc., nearly enough.

It's part of a project by John Ziegler to produce a documentary called How Obama Got Elected. On election day 12 Obama voters were interviewed after they left the polls for the purpose of learning how media impacted their knowledge. They were chosen, says the website, "for their apparent intelligence/verbal abilities and willingness to express their opinions to a large audience." Ziegler also commissioned a Zogby telephone poll of 512 Obama voters using the same questions (you can read more about those results on the website.) In most cases the questions were multiple choice among the 4 presidential and vice-presidential candidates.

The video, below, is about 9 minutes long, but quite fascinating. (Feedblitz subscribers: I think you'll have to click on the blog post title to take you to the blog itself to view the video)

What's especially striking to me today, is, as important as the presidential election is, even more important is knowing who God is, and I suspect if a similar sort of poll were conducted involving basic questions regarding God's essence and nature the results would be even worse. And for the same reason, which is that mostly people are involved in themselves and the small details of their own lives, content to accept without question information that affirms their pre-existing ideas, and not terribly interested in investigating information that doesn't.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The New Star Trek Movie

I remember (this will surely date me) when the original Star Trek TV show came out. My friends and I had seen the trailers for weeks, read the articles in TV Guide and the newspaper and could not wait. I believe I was in the seventh or eighth grade (I could go research and figure it out exactly but I'm not going to take the time; this isn't a legal deposition, after all).

I was already a big fan of science fiction and fantasy. For years I'd watched those weird movies on Saturday afternoon which today are mocked and ridiculed on things like Mystery Science Theater. The Giant Behemoth. Godzilla. Frankenstein. Dracula. The Blob. It Came from Outer Space. The Creature from Black Lagoon. All in black and white and cornball as can be. The special effects were ridiculous. The Twilight Zone and Outer Limits were better, but they worked more on suggestion and less on actual special effects.

But as we had nothing else to compare them to, they worked. Books, of course were better and I was already a voracious reader of Andre Norton, Heinlein, Asimov...

The night of Star Trek's premiere, one of my friends hosted a special Star Trek party, and we all went over and watched it. In color. When it was over, everyone just sat where they were. Awed. That was SO COOL!!

I loved Spock. I think we all did. I loved Kirk in a kind of amused and tolerating way. McCoy for some reason was my favorite. I couldn't stand Nurse Whatsherface (with the crush on Spock and the basket hairdo) or Chekov, but Sulu was cool. That first season was just awesome. I audio taped the episodes and played them back repeatedly "watching" the show again through my ears alone. I memorized a lot of lines. ("Captain! Lt Sulu is on deck 4 attacking crewmen with a sword!").

The second season was good too, but then it began to get silly. I only watched the final season off and on and was put off every time I did. The movies resurrected to some degree the original tone and quality and I enjoyed all of them. The characters were by then old friends.

Maybe that's why The Next Generation just never clicked with me. (Or maybe because I'm of the Last Generation...) I liked Pikard and Data, but everyone else drove me up the wall, particularly Capt. Riker. I liked the third series, the one with the woman captain, even less. So I approach the notion of a new movie, with new actors playing my old favorites, telling the story of their youths before the Enterprise with some trepidation.

Today I found the trailer they've just put online. And... it looks pretty good! Simon Pegg as Scotty, though? He'll probably be fun, but ... And the guy they got to play a young Spock looks pretty... baby-faced, I guess and one thing I never thought of Spock as being was baby-faced, not even when he was a baby. And the young Kirk, is, well, not Kirk but... A sexy romance between Kirk and Uhura? That doesn't seem right... But I admit those are the usual sorts of objections from ancient fans like myself -- we only like old things! LOL. Maybe. Because despite all that, I'm intrigued.

Anyway, here it is, for those of you interested in this sort of thing.

The Daily Mail Online article ("Star Trek gets a sexy makeover in new film with love scenes, motorbikes and hunky stars") with still pictures and a bigger sized video if you scroll down is here. I don't know how long it will be up.

Just the video, but much smaller, is here.



Monday, November 17, 2008

A Private Retreat

Well. I was supposed to go to the San Francisco Bible Conference last week, scheduled to leave Thursday and return today (Monday). I had my plane ticket, my hotel reservations, and had even gotten my suitcase out in preparation for packing. But Enclave had not been going well, and distractions just weren't ending. We had a birthday celebration for my mother on Tuesday night, during which Thanksgiving and Christmas were discussed. Maybe that triggered it.

Or maybe the Lord just used it. I don't know. Whatever the case, I was awakened at 4:15am Wednesday morning by a hot flash (not unusual) and was flooded with the sense that I should not go. That I needed to stay home and concentrate on the book.

Lately the Lord had been dealing with me on the matter of taking this part of His calling on my life more seriously. If you've been reading this blog for any lenght of time you may have noticed that I've been struggling to apply some of the principles I've been learning -- most notably the concept of rest. I have never been sure how to rest and at the same time do the work. Most problematic of course was that horrid deadline. Should I completely ignore it and just live my life like a normal person, doing whatever came up, writing as I could and let the Lord handle it? Well that was one way to maintain rest.

Sort of.

But over the last few weeks I think I was being shown something else. Not that I need the deadline, but that I have an unusual calling, one that seems to require solitude, and much time for contemplation. The sheer number of things that had crowded into my mind compromised my ability to concentrate on the word. And maybe I should be taking that work more seriously. Not to the point where I obsessed about the deadline, but where I started choosing for it over other things.

So there I was Wednesday morning, faced with the sudden conviction that I should stay home. Yes, it's a good thing to go to the conference and fellowship with the other attendees, to build them up, to encourage the pastor(s). I've done any number of them. I'd sacrificed time to work on the book just last August for one. Maybe it was time now to sacrifice time at the conference (for I absolutely love going to them) for the sake of the book.

It was one of those choices where both seem right, but you can only choose one. In the the end, talking it over with a friend, she pointed out that I was only seeking to do what God wanted me to do. Whatever I decided he would bless it, because the motivation was right.

I had already decided that I would go and work on the plane and in between lessons... so the whole idea of fellowshipping was already curtailed in my thinking. To go, to have to spend Wednesday preparing, then Thursday traveling... and how could I gather my material properly to work on it somewhere totally outside my comfort zone, as one of the pastors taught over the weekend? Not just out of my comfort zone, but on an old laptop I never use, with a different program, a flat keyboard, no printer. I wouldn't have my files, my papers...

So I decided to stay home, looking at it as a matter of caring for my own vineyard, which is a concept we've been repeatedly exposed to of late in our Bible classes. I canceled my flight (I love Southwest -- didn't lose any of the money, and have it for the next conference I need to fly to. Maybe Florida???) and my hotel reservations. Except for the one friend I talked it over with, and one other, I kept my decision secret, deciding to act as if I was out of town, still get the lessons, but beyond that devote all my time to writing.

Wow. That level of concentrated focus really made a difference. What I thought I would work on, I didn't. What I did, was very difficult. I became enmeshed in a dilemma of which of several scenes to put in what order, and what day should I start them on. Should I begin the narrative on Monday and just do a summary til I got to Wednesday, or should I start on WEdnesday. Should I start with Cam? Or Lacey?

In the end I had to go back to chapters 19 and 20 and redo the endings on them, putting in material I was trying to stuff into 22 and 23. It's made 19 and 20 much stronger. A lot of things emerged over the weekend, time which I had mostly to myself, since my husband had other activities that kept him away most of the days. I really started learning how to listen to the Lord.

It's been so cool to be blank and just go to Him and say what should I do? Then I listen and He tells me. It's step by step. Moment by moment. I am not thinking about the deadline at all. I've given it over to Him. Again. I've also given over myself to Him, too, since I have been so utterly incompetent at managing myself. He'll have to do it. The cool thing is, he's eternal and omniscient so in His perfect plan He's already factored in all my screw ups.

So this marks the end of my little "retreat" but it's been very enlightening and I think I will be doing a lot more guarding of both my time and my mind in the days to come.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Good Man, Bad Rap

I've for the most part left politics behind, now, but have just a couple more things that I found of interest which I'd like to share over the next couple of days.

The first is an article in the Washington Post by Staffwriter Dan Eggen, that appeared on Sunday, November 2, 2008. Yes, the Sunday before the election. I saw the headline on Drudge and it caught my eye immediately because it echoes how I feel. It's called, 'My Heart and My Values Didn't Change' -- In Bush, Loyalists See a Good and Steadfast Man Who Has Gotten a Bad Rap

It starts:

On a cold, gray morning a week before Election Day, President Bush briefly emerged from the White House for an unannounced visit to the headquarters of the Republican National Committee in Southeast Washington.

Outside the RNC building, Bush continued to face record-low approval ratings and a presidential campaign focused on his failings. But inside an overflowing conference room, he was greeted with roaring applause as he urged his fellow Republicans to keep pushing for the finish line.

"His general message was to thank the staff for everything we've been doing and encourage us to keep working hard all the way through Election Day," said one person who attended the closed event. "It was upbeat and very exciting."


Thursday, November 06, 2008

In Whom Do You Trust?

When the results came out on election night, I was pretty bummed.

I was appalled that our people had come to the point they had elected a man who could not get the security clearance to serve as his own bodyguard, nor even to do my husband's job;

a man that our enemies wanted us to elect, and are now dancing in the streets and slaughtering animals in celebration over;

a man who said he wants to bankrupt the coal industry with global warming carbon emission fines and cause our energy prices to skyrocket;

a Marxist who thinks if you don't want to redistribute the wealth you are "selfish," and who in all likelihood shares the view of Congressman Jim Moran (D-Va) who regards as "simplistic" the notion "that people who have wealth are entitled to keep it," and thinks it's obvious that wealth should be redistributed (LINK);

who plans to do away with our "unproven missile defense systems," take away our guns, and establish a civilian security force that is as strong, powerful and well-funded as our military.

Who promises sweeping and fundamental change -- for one of the most prosperous, powerful, successful nations on the planet, a nation full of active sin natures, yes, but still the best in our lifetime.

How could this be? I didn't understand. Why would people want any of that? Why couldn't they see the truth? Yes, they have elevated Barack Obama to messianic status... but why?

One woman was excited because now "I don't have to worry about putting gas in my tank any more. I don't have to worry about paying my mortgage. Obama's going to take care of that."

Others were enraptured. Ecstatic. "We're going to have change! We have hope again for better lives, a better experience, freedom after the torture and nightmare of the last eight years! We're going to have happiness, finally."

How could they believe all that?

Yesterday morning I picked up a little booklet I had lying around, the transcript of a sermon given by my former pastor, Col. R.B.Thieme, Jr, the day after Bill Clinton's inauguration in 1993. It spoke directly to the issue and is called "In Whom Do You Trust?":

"There was quite a cross-section of people from this country attending the (Clinton) inauguration. Almost without exception, everyone interviewed expressed similar ideas. Some were eloquent, some spoke with hesitation, some with a measure of confusion, but they all centered eventually on one word -- hope. Their hope was not the biblical hope of confidence in the Lord and in the Word of God...

"In effect, their hope was based on unrealistic expectations -- a new face in the White House, a new administration, a political change. To the people who were interviewed, political change meant something better for them. Hope was the word they used. They were depending upon government -- a government that has failed to fulfill its functions and obligations and has the greatest indebtedness in human history. They were depending on Congress, on a president, on people...They thought the government either owed them a living or that change would bring something they wanted -- happiness. A better environment was just around the corner. ...

"Never have I many people from all walks of life who had such tremendous needs. Because they cannot define their needs in terms of values (from the Word of God), they are looking for a man to solve their problems. They are looking for government to do something for them. They are looking at people to wave a magic wand and give them what they want to make them happy."

It's eerie how accurately those words describe what we have seen from those who have elected Obama in the past few days. They want change. They have hope. They can do it. They can change the world and find happiness and peace and tranquility.

But it's all a lie. A delusion. I know it is, because the Bible says it is:

Thus says the Lord, "Cursed is the person who puts his confidence in man and makes people his strength, so that his heart turns away from the Lord, for he shall be like a tumbleweed in the desert and he will not see prosperity (the word can also be translated 'good' or 'values') when it comes; for he shall live in parched places."

Dried up places. Places of no hope, places where you are always searching, never finding, always learning, never coming to a knowledge of the truth, always craving, never satisfied. Those are the places of the world, which offers much, and delivers nothing.

"Happy is the man who trusts in the LORD and whose trust is in the Lord; therefore the Lord is is confidence. He shall be like a tree planted by the water and by a stream; he will send out roots. Therefore he does not fear when the heat comes, for his leaves are always green."

Jeremiah 17:5-8

Upon reading those words and the remainder of that sermon, my sense of anger and outrage drained away, replaced by something closer to sympathy. They are blind. Deceived and deceiving. They have rejected the only source of happiness -- God and His word -- and like Solomon in Ecclesiastes are running about searching for something to fill the hole in their hearts that only God can fill.

And until they stop and realize there's nothing there and turn back... they are doomed to repeat the cycle. Desiring change, achieving hope, disappointed when the man, the government, the project they pinned that hope on...doesn't deliver. Dispirited, depressed,angry, frustrated, they lash out with hatred, until the next cipher comes along and they can latch onto him -- or her -- and convince themselves that this person will finally do what all the others didn't. This one will finally make them happy.

Except he won't. Guaranteed.


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

In the Last Days

"But realize this, that in the last days, perilous times will come. For men shall be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconciliable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God;

"holding to a form of godliness though they have denied its power (the filling of the Holy Spirit; knowledge of doctrine); avoid such men as these...

"And indeed, all who desire to live godly WILL be persecuted. But evil men and imposters will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being decieved.

"You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them; and that from childhood, you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to deliverance through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

"All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be adequate (mature, capable) equipped for every good work."

~2 Timothy 3:1-3; 12-17


Saturday, November 01, 2008


I find Barack Hussein Obama's name to be of interest.

First, because of the obvious: Hussein evokes recall of Saddam Hussein, while Obama is but a letter away from Osama, Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden being two of our country's greatest recent enemies.

And Barack? That's the most interesting of all. It's a diminutive of Baraka, which is the Arab word for blessing, understandably very close to Berachah (roughly the same pronunciation), which is the Hebrew word for blessing. (And the name of the first doctrinal church I was a part of.)

Baraka is also the Kiswahili word for blessing, according to this article in Wikipedia. Kiswahili (or Swahili, to the rest of us) derives about 35% of its vocabulary from Arabic.

But back to Islam, whose Koran clearly instructs followers to kill both Christians and Jews whenever they can.

In Islam, baraka is said to be the "divine blessing that is normally associated with holy men or women," and can be transferred from one person to another. Or from an object or place to a person. Baraka hangs out at local shrines, but the strongest baraka is found in Mecca, at the Ka'ba. (That's the curtained, boxlike structure that Muslims march around when they do their pilgrimages at the time of hajj). There's a black stone outside its door that also has great baraka.

Interestingly, though we associate the Ka'ba with Islam, it is not, in fact, an Islamic creation, but predated the arrival of Muhammed by centuries. During those pre Islamic times the site was reverred as a place of worshipping demon gods of the sun, moon and stars. Since demons hang out around such centers of worship, and transfer themselves to the bodies of those people who invite them to do so (not always with conscious intent; another subject) I find this notion of "Baraka" to be very interesting, indeed...

Click HERE for source for information on "baraka."