Friday, January 24, 2014

The Greater Good

I recently put up a quote from St. Theophan the Recluse on a board:
Do whatever falls to your hands, in your circle and in your situation--and believe that this is and will be your true work; nothing more from you is expected. It is a great error to think that you must undertake important and great labors, whether for heaven, or as the progressives think, in order to make one's contribution to humanity. That is not necessary at all. It is necessary only to do everything in accordance with the Lord's commandments. Just exactly what is to be done? Nothing in particular, just that which presents itself to each one according to the circumstances of his life, and which is demanded by the individual events with which each of us meets.
I've been thinking about it a lot lately. It comes from The Spiritual Life: And How to Be Attuned to It, which also includes a little rant about "progressives". The saint knew of some women who worked in publishing, thinking they were contributing to the greater good ... meanwhile, their mothers went hungry. It's just about what's closest to you--that's where the need for help lies.

I've always had illusions of grandeur: I've always wanted to do something great in this huge world, whether it was mission work, volunteering abroad, working with the homeless in Dallas when we lived closer to the city, adopting internationally and special needs children, whatever. It's probably just my mental illness, and yet I hope we've all had the desire to do some good in this world. I used to pray for God to send me someone to help take care of when I already had someone in my life who needed me. The problem was that she was (and still is) a rather intense and difficult person to deal with--I guess I wanted an angel in disguise. Now I call her every Sunday and help her deal with the reality of having her food stamps taken away. And it's hard, and sometimes it doesn't feel especially rewarding. But this is a human who needs help, not a hobby.

Anyway, yesterday I accompanied the church homeschool group to a nursing home a few blocks from one mother's house. I was playing photographer, and the children sang songs and then milled about with the people who'd come to listen. Much to my surprise, I worked up the bravery to talk to people the children were missing. I readily admit that I'm not as much fun to talk to as the adorable kinderfolk, but hey, I'm here. And I got some good pictures for posterity's sake. I'd post some here, but I don't have the parents' permission, and I prefer to err on the side of caution. But just think: It was local, lonely people got some visitors, the children learned a little empathy, so on and so forth. It's a good thing. And it got me out of the house for a change. Also good.

I hate to use the cliche, "Think globally, act locally," but do.

Now I have to decide if I'm going to go back to sleep or knit. Choices, choices.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Post-Colonoscopy Blogging

Apparently everything looks good on that front, by the way. Healthy colon. We'll see what's next in the follow-up appointment.

I read a good article today: When Christians Love Theology More Than People. It got me thinking about another article from forever ago that caused me a touch of consternation over the weekend. Long story: We bought a piece of art from our favorite gallery, and there had been a story in the Dallas Observer about the artist. They had extra copies, so they gave us one. But up at the tippy-top in tiny letters was something about Creationists losing their foothold in the education debate. I don't like having opinions on education because I don't have kids, but as Chris pointed out, "Do you care about the future of humanity?" (It's a good point, but that didn't stop me from responding, "Eh, I'll be dead by then.")

So here's my opinion: Teach evolution in schools. It's the prevailing theory of the day, and it only precludes God if you're small-minded. "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if thou hast understanding" (Job 38:4). But there's always been something more important on my mind when it comes to the evolution/creation debate. I swear I did a blog post on it a few years ago in bold, italics, all caps, and super-sized font, but the Loquat's search engine isn't finding it. So I'll do again, only nicer. Well, a little nicer. 

Fellow humans--Christians, secular humanists, whatever--while you're slapping "Evolution is Just a Theory" stickers on textbooks or having heated debates about evolution and both of you think the other is just a stupid idiot for his/her beliefs, there are people starving in the world. Hell, there are people who are starving in your community, no matter where you are. There are people living in cardboard boxes on the streets. There are people who have no access to potable water. There are children dying of any number of preventable diseases. There are people wasting away in nursing homes with next-to-no stimulation (and if you play an instrument, there's simply no excuse for that!). There are people who lived through war, sexual assault, any number of terrible things. There are suicidal people. There are people with mental illnesses that don't have a support network like I do. So you're going to waste everyone's time by debating something that happened billions of years ago/4000 years ago/10,000 years ago/however old you believe the earth is?! SERIOUSLY? (Oops, there I go with the all-caps.) All of you read chapter 25 of Matthew and get out there and do some good! I, a spry young 30-year-old, was wheeled out of the hospital by a volunteer who had to have been in her 80's. If she can do good, if I can do something as minuscule as knit hats for the homeless (which I don't think is that big a deal, no matter what my husband says), you can do something too. 

And that's my opinion on the evolution-creation debate, and that's my input towards the "love people more than theology" topic. I'll shut up now and go poke my dogs in the ribs with chopsticks. 

Update: I found the ranting post. It was about Chik-fil-A, not evolution. You can read it here

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Sick

I feel as though I left the world recently. I've been quite sick, part with worry (I get my first colonoscopy on Wednesday) and part with general yuck. Chris has been cooking a lot lately, which is great, but he reintroduced butter to my system, and it seems that my body rebels against dairy fats. End result was some pretty miserable weeks. We're working it out though--supplementing Mark Bittman with The Intolerant Gourmet, using plant-based oils, almond milk in my espresso, etc.--and I'm feeling pretty well back to normal.

Chris has the weekend off, so we're headed to Austin for a little time off. We'll be attending this: Mobile Loaves & Fishes - ROADS Art Show. We missed Art From the Streets in December (Chris was probably working, but how should I know? that was a whole month ago), so it'll be nice to go to this show. And it'll be nice to do something fun before my colonoscopy. Lighten my mood a little. Of course, all this depends on whether or not we can kennel the dogs at the last minute, but it is the middle of January and not the holiday season, so I don't think that'll be a problem. 

Anyway, it's back to bed with me, gentle readers. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Oh Right--That's Why I'm Orthodox

I'm reading two books by Catholics: One is fine (except that I don't agree with the sentiment that birth control has no use in the world, but that's minor), but the other is making me batty. And yet, for some reason, I'm going to finish the latter one ... but not before I rant a little. I read the second chapter last night (just two chapters in and I'm already crazy), and I promised myself I wouldn't go on until I wrote something about it.

This is going to be an unusually raw post for me, and I apologize to the squeamish. Both Catholic authors have expressed that women and men are not the same kind of person with different plumbing but that there are real differences between the two sexes. I get that. It's just that in the book about modesty, there seems to be the conclusion that the different sexes are incapable of certain types of sin. Obviously, women react to everything emotionally while men get a hard on from everything they see. No woman has ever had sex just for pleasure; no man has ever wanted an emotional connection with his partner. And ladies, it's our job to dress modestly so we don't invite men to sin, because goodness knows they can't control themselves. Lousy beasts.

I think of a particular section of the second book of Kristen Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset. Simon, Kristen's former betrothed, is always in love with her; in this particular instance he feels that ache when he spies Kristen wearing her wimple differently in the south of Norway than she did up north ... even though he's married to her little sister. It was still modest fashion--just different. Who's at fault here?

I said in a previous post that I don't wear headcoverings all the time because they mess with my head. So I guess it's my fault that I've surely turned a few heads (heads of men who love fat, short women) because I didn't follow the Bible entirely. And on the flip side, why do I feel a clunk in my brain like a brick falling from a height when I see chest hair (I like 'em hairy--other ladies can have the namby-pambies who wax), or when I see a certain character from Girl Genius, or when I see the new Doctor? Is it because I'm a freak?

The Orthodox are all going, "Ha! It's the passions!" Of course it's the passions! Everyone's got 'em no matter how much you try to assert in your book that only men have passions! I still prefer modest fashions (why do you think I bought the book in the first place?), but not because I see it as my personal responsibility to keep all men from sinning. If that's your presumption then 1) you're pompous, and 2) I wish you luck on that front. I'm blessed to belong to a group of Orthodox Christian women on Facebook who discuss modest dress and headcovering. I can say with 99% certainty that they'd all agree that they're modest for the sake of the Lord and not for the sake of lustful men. And then they'd add that men need to take care of their own business.

So what's a passion? Try this on for size: You're a man. You see a pretty lady in a provocative outfit. You feel that clunk like I feel, and you now have two choices: You can fight the clunk (that'll be my new rallying cry: "FIGHT THE CLUNK!"), or you can have lustful thoughts. The clunk is not sin--it's just the invitation to sin. It's what you do with it that matters. Next, try me on for size: You're me. You see the latest released pictures from the set of "Doctor Who" with Peter Capaldi. You can either think, "Yay! New cover photo for Facebook!" or you can think, "Rowr." And I'm not always good with thinking the former (I like 'em mature too--no one's more thrilled than I am that Chris is going gray early). I don't like being open about my sins, especially where my seemingly-perfect marriage is involved, but I have a point to make. And that point is: We're all vulnerable. So that's why I'm glad I chose Orthodoxy--it's a real understanding of human nature, which is great and varied and doesn't fall neatly into little groups along gender lines.

Maybe I won't finish that book.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Everything but the Baby

I saw the slogan for Diapers.com--Everything but the Baby--and I knew it was time to sit down and write.

I'm rather bipolar right now (not in the psychological sense). The radio is playing PSA's for adopting from foster care and I'm wondering about having a baby again. Then the guys on the radio talk about spending $100 on batteries alone at Christmas and I'm thinking about birth control. As I often say to Chris, "This is the suck."

I'm dealing with a plague of pregnancies and new babies in my life, which is probably why I'm emotional. Parenthood seems fulfilling until I watch something break down between parent and child. (Read: our oldest niece is in middle school now.) I'm sure anyone would tell me that the ups and downs are worth it in parenting, but I just don't know.

You know what really bugs me? That I can't damn decide. Actually, I think I've decided not to put forth the effort required to get around my infertility, but I feel guilty about it. Which is stupid. I was on a website for DINK's (even though we're a SINK--single income, no kids), and apparently only 7% of people in the US think that not having kids is selfish. Which brings me to an embarrassing confession: We were at the Dallas farmers market years ago, and I heard one woman selling gourmet dog biscuits say that her dogs were her kids. And I thought that was just plain selfish. But now I think, "What if she was like you? What if kids just didn't happen? What if she had a miscarriage and a failed adoption and just didn't want to go through it all again?"

I almost told my in-laws at Christmas that the dogs (who were in tow) were as close to grandchildren as they would get from us. So now I'm the lady whose dogs are her children. One is pigheaded and has ADHD, and the other is shy and clingy. And the cats are just cats.

I'm going to go back to that DINKs website and feel better about myself.