Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Story On "On Fairy Stories"

Over the weekend I finally finished  "On Fairy Stories" by JRR Tolkien.  It's a nice essay (27ish pages) that took longer than I anticipated to read.  But that set up some awesome timing for the finish.

A fancy little review here:

Interesting as it is written prior to LOTR, and Tolkien clearly has principled views of what a fairy-story is and how useful it is. 

And in other news: (a not unrelated anecdote)

On Saturday I was able to jaunt to the local (non-chain) Christian book story.  I was searching for a book that could probably be found/bought faster & cheaper through cbd.com or amazon or the big chain down the road; but there is something very nice about local shops.  I am a fan of mom and pop shops and local ownership.  I am a patron.

So Becky says "grab a book for me if you see one" and I agreed with the sentiment.  I like bargain sections and would certainly have her in mind rather than my wild taste.  The "bargain" section was packed with uninteresting stuff so I turned to the non-bargain remainder of the store.  There are a few "specials" intermingled so it isn't a bad option for a deal.

According to the bookstore divisions, Becky's general preference falls into contemporary fiction or historical fiction.  Becky and I do cross over in a genre described more as a fantasy fiction or "fairy story".  Prior to the essay I wouldn't have labeled it as that, but that's what it is.

I was greatly troubled in looking for a book that I might be also interested in opening after Becky was done.  It the realm we overlap in, it was classified as teen or children's fiction.  Huh?  Why?  Granted, I have no problems with the label, but is there no adult fiction that approaches these elements?

I know the bookstore has to sell what sells.  It was just frustrating that I don't like what they're selling.  I felt like a vegetarian at a pig roast.

A day later I finished the Tolkein essay which really plunged into this being a terrible trend of limiting fairy stories to nursery rhymes.  It's not that we stop enjoying them, it is that we stop telling them.  A huge point to me was the value to a person of escape.  And the value of a story  using eucatastrophe (an unexpected wreck for good).

It was an incredibly thoughtful essay.  The concept of Escape has me pondering still.  But for now I'll sit in my cubicle (a prison without bars) and stare outside at the rolling clouds.

Friday, April 15, 2011

A few food pointers

I hide food from my kids.  I have some certain delectable snacks that I am fully greedy about and don't want to share.  My reason for not sharing is simply that they will eat them all.  I know they're good, they know it tastes good; so the game begins.  It is not a game I plan to lose.  So over the years I've developed a few tricks to keep the precious spoils away from the precocious spoilers (maybe spoil-ees is more fitting).

1.  Fainting Goats. 
The fainting goats are thought to have been kept around to protect the remainder of the herd by getting eaten first.  They get excited, pass out and are wolf chow.  I love kettle cooked chips.  I've learned kids just love chips; give them the cheap-o ripple chips and reserve the kettle chips for yourself.  Ice cream.  We have a big tub of generic fudge ripple for the kids and buried in back are the chocolate pb ripple for me and the chocolate chip cookie dough for Becky.  Fainting goats.

2.  Delay. 
My family loves popcorn.  My kids devour popcorn like a poorly tuned Sherman eating gas.  I probably make popcorn 3-5 times a week.  The kids probably get 1x a week.  Generally about 10 minutes after bedtime I make popcorn.  Not the crappy microwave stuff either; I'm talking stove top with some natural flavor and complementing salt.  I just don't want to share it with those vultures who finish the bowl before I set it down and then start yipping about more butter on the next batch. 

3. Privacy. 
Other than after bedtime I've gotten fairly good at sneaking in munchies in the space beside the fridge.  Lean over the counter and read a paper or a small ad.  This provides a natural positioning where subtle movements can occur without alerting the tribe of minis that snacks are being enjoyed.  If you can manage to sneak the guilt inducing snacks into the bathroom that works also.  The door locks; privacy is almost understood; and you can manage a moment of bliss.

4.  "These aren't the droids you're looking for".
As my kids are getting better at scouring cabinets for assets they are spotting the tasty snacks and asking for them.  To avoid the traps of "what cookies? you wouldn't like them?" and "they're for later" (which induces pestering) I recommend hiding the food.  Higher shelves used to work but step stools and ninja climbing are making that tougher.  A padlock just interferes with the privacy pointer as the guards will see the cabinet open.  I've recently found that Quaker Oats are generally considered foul and will never be toyed with.  It's like kryptonite.  Therefore the canister can be utilized as an excellent treasure chest of tasty tidbits.

5.  Snack early, snack often.
Generally being the first one up and making the coffee can give me a key headstart to the snacking day.  These need to be fairly handy pop in your mouth snacks for the most effective use.  You can get 4-5 good rounds in before the natives are up and moving.

Just passing along some wisdom from the years.  Stay snacking.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Love is not blind, it is bound.

Marriage is a duel to the death that no man should decline. -GKC

There the obligatory quote is out of the way, twice (the title is from Orthodoxy). 

I ran across a statement the other day by a wise person (not GKC) who said "marriage is choosing to die slowly for another."  Hmm.  Especially thoughtful when rolling in the church as the bride of Christ and him dying for the church.

Yes; a noble act of taking the proverbial bullet for your wife is fairly easy to envision and say "yup, I would."  But the tougher task is choosing to die daily.  Being bound.  Searching each day for ways to serve your marriage.  Choosing "us" more than "me".  For marriage to be a lifetime commitment it also needs to be a daily commitment. 

At various points in life and self evaluation you reach epiphany moments.  Realizing where you have been wrong in thoughts, actions, or words and have a new outlook.  Not always 180-degree u-turns, sometimes just 1-degree adjustments.  I don't have a defined moment on all of this, but reading that thought wisdom was certainly a marker to me of how I used to be.

I do lots of stuff.  I like doing stuff and I'm generally pretty good at it.  I like being involved.  But every time I choose to say "yes" to stuff, I'm saying "no" to my wife.  Especially when I pick the "me" stuff.  I've been doing too much stuff for too long at the cost of neglecting my wife who will be with me when all the stuff is faded away to memories and creaky joints.

It was also convicting to watch Kevin Leman in an awful 90's red sweater saying don't overbook your kids.  They need to belong in the family more than in every sports/music/drama/church thing.  While pretty good at not overbooking the kids, I do overbook myself.

Just something to start nudging the other way.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tempting, but no.

Twice in the past week I ran into what was, for me, a new teaching/thinking on temptation. I've never thought too much on temptation so no surprise to hit something new; but coming up twice? C'mon.

I think my naive view has been "flee from it" or "lead us not into". Mostly, dwelling on it is like dwelling on sin; I know, I suck; I get it. Temptation has power because the immediate returns seem so pleasant. A daily struggle that I wish wasn't. 
James 1:14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.

(1 Tim 1:15) Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.

In the morning devotional with my Becky, we hit Oswald Chambers saying you can be tempted in two ways (he referenced James). Satan outright tempting you with something new, and you being tempted by your past. This hit with a sense of an external and internal view; maybe more of a future/past facet.  Interesting.

Then a sermon from Father Thomas Mackenzie out of Nashville was focusing on Jesus in the wilderness being tempted by things that are not outright evil. How is making bread, a bad thing?  Jesus later turns water into wine, more bread from small bread; how is stones into bread an evil temptation? 

The temptation wasn't really the bread, it was to reclaim power.  It was temptation to ignore the plan of the Father.
Hebrews 2:18
Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

I think Oswald set me up to really hear T-Mac.  Mostly that we are not alone in our temptation trying to struggle it out, gut it out, strength it out....  Go further though.  It's not that Jesus wants to fight by our side, he wants to fight for us; and he has already won the victory.

Just a quick deep thought.  Back to grindstone.