Saturday, July 29, 2006

Too Hot...

to do anything else, so I surfed over to blogthings again.

You Are a Prophet Soul

You are a gentle soul, with good intentions toward everyone.
Selfless and kind, you have great faith in people.
Sometimes this faith can lead to disappoinment in the long run.
No matter what, you deal with everything in a calm and balanced way.

You are a good interpreter, very sensitive, intuitive, caring, and gentle.
Concerned about the world, you are good at predicting people's feelings.
A seeker of wisdom, you are a life long learner looking for purpose and meaning.
You are a great thinker and communicator, but not necessarily a doer.

Souls you are most compatible with: Bright Star Soul and Dreaming Soul

Interesting! I'm not sure what to make of it all. I wonder what it will say for you?

A bit serious, you say?

Well, then: Can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street???

You Are Bert

Extremely serious and a little eccentric, people find you loveable - even if you don't love them!

You are usually feeling: Logical - you rarely let your emotions rule you

You are famous for: Being smart, a total neat freak, and maybe just a little evil

How you life your life: With passion, even if your odd passions (like bottle caps and pigeons) are baffling to others

Or - Is it time to light the lights? Is it time to play the music?

You Are Scooter

Brainy and knowledgable, you are the perfect sidekick.
You're always willing to lend a helping hand.
In any big event or party, you're the one who keeps things going.
"15 seconds to showtime!"

And, finally...

Your Values Profile


You value loyalty a fair amount.
You're loyal to your friends... to a point.
But if they cross you, you will reconsider your loyalties.
Staying true to others is important to you, but you also stay true to yourself.


You value honesty a fair amount.
You're honest when you can be, but you aren't a stickler for it.
If a little white lie will make a situation more comfortable, you'll go for it.
In the end, you mostly care about "situational integrity."


You value generosity a fair amount.
You are all about giving, as long as there's some give and take.
Supportive and kind, you don't mind helping out a friend in need.
But you know when you've given too much. You have no problem saying "no"!


You value humility highly.
You have the self-confidence to be happy with who you are.
And you don't need to seek praise to make yourself feel better.
You're very modest, and you're keep the drama factor low.


You value tolerance highly.
Not only do you enjoy the company of those very different from you...
You do all that you can to seek it out interesting and unique friends.
You think there are many truths in life, and you're open to many of them.

Midnight Caller

(This statue is in my hometown.)

Back in the day, my friend N and I (we went to the same high school) were partners in "teen rebellion." I would tell my parents "I'm spending the night at N's house," and off we'd go... N's parents didn't believe in curfews, and could be counted on to tell my parents we were safe & sound if they ever called. Which they didn't - my parents were much too shy to make a phone call to people they didn't know. I'm not going to go into just what we did - just that it involved N having wheels (a Gremlin ), and our proximity to a small college campus.

N called last night, at about midnight, waking me out of a sound sleep. I hadn't talked to her in over a decade. I'm not quite sure why she called, she kept saying she was disappointed I wasn't at our 25th reunion (6 years ago!) and wanted to know how I was. She said she was looking through a booklet prepared for a previous reunion, found my listing and decided to call -- not really thinking that I might not be awake at midnight on a Friday night.

I wonder what prompts someone to call an old friend out of the blue? I think she must have been very lonely. It seemed as if I was a positive memory for her of high school. Odd, to think of being someone else's positive memory! But then, we never know what seeds we sow - or how they will grow in someone else's mind or memory.

We talked for a little while, about inconsequential things. I finally asked for her phone number, as I'm in her new home town fairly frequently these days. Maybe I'll call her sometime. Maybe I'll find out what she needed. I hope it helped her for a few minutes to connect to someone. I hope through my sleepy haze I was up to the challenge. (DH says I was more polite than he thought he could have managed...)

I learned a variation on the metta meditation a while back, written by Joan Borysenko:

May I be at peace,
May my heart remain open.
May I know the beauty of my own true nature.
May I be healed.

Now, I'll add: "May the memories I leave be of kindness."

May N be at peace, May her heart remain open. May she know the beauty of her own true nature. May she be healed. May the memory she leaves be of kindness.

May it be so.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Unexpected Grace

So... where is the room in a non-theistic theology for mystery, for miracles, for grace. As I was waking up this morning, I heard a story on the radio that was a beautiful example of worldly, transcendent, spontaneous grace. You can listen to it here.

It's part of the StoryCorps series on NPR. The story is from a pediatrician who worked with a family for several days, trying to save the life of a young girl who badly needed a liver transplant. When it became obvious that the child was not going to survive, even if a transplant became available immediately, her parents asked the doctor if their daughter's organs could be used to help others after she died. They could, and were.

What mystery, what inspiration for grieving parents to spontaneously offer their child's organs for transplantation - when their own wait for a transplant had proved fruitless. What courage to recognize that good could come of their own grief - and that their daughter could give to others what she could not have. What selflessness. What hope. That's transcendent grace, or as much of it as I can understand.

What a blessing for the persons who received the donated organs - the miracle of life itself.

There is good in the world. Miracles do happen. Transcendent grace is present - not a gift of a supernatural being but human grace, wrought by human hands.


Thursday, July 27, 2006

Done, Done I Say! -- Live Long and Prosper...

Woo Hoo! I've sent in my final paper for the intensive I took in May on "Building the Church of the Future." Hooray! I can now set that aside and take up the challenge of my final paper for "20th Century Liberal Theology." But first, I'm going to take a break for a day or two.

Hot gossip - I get it last, of course. M* tells me last night that former *NSYNC band member Lance has come out. Are we surprised? I think not. However, while surfing this morning to find the date for National Coming Out Day (planning a service), I happen upon the news that George Takei came out almost a year ago. I completely missed that. Mr. Sulu is gay, and doing speaking engagements for the Human Rights Campaign. Good for him.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

I Love Public Libraries !

Here is my local library! It used to be housed in a former church, featuring cramped quarters with tall stacks and a children's room that was housed in a dark basement. This is the spacious new building, built on the site of the former middle school which burned to the ground several years ago. The new building has these great private study rooms, which is where I am right now. Oh - and do notice the observatory in the picture! A local business donated a ton of money for the new building with the proviso that they also put in an observatory. So, we have sky shows, when the weather is clear & the light pollution is low. Pretty cool for a small town.

I'm working on a project for one of my summer classes - here I have fewer distractions than at home. No teen begging for a ride to the mall. No refrigerator calling out to me with promises of just the right snack. No stacks of books and papers sitting on the floor, making me feel bad about not getting them organized over the past couple of months. You get the idea.

I've actually written 4 solid pages on this project - which needs to be about 8-10 pages long - so I'm making good progress. I love libraries - especially ones with WiFi access!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Irresistible Quiz

OK - I saw this on another blog & couldn't resist trying it myself. Oddly accurate.

What Your Soul Really Looks Like

You are very passionate and quite temperamental. While you can be moody, you always crave comfort.

You are a grounded person, but you also leave room for imagination and dreams. You feet may be on the ground, but you're head is in the clouds.

You believe that people see you as a bit small and insignificant. People pay more attention to you than you think.

Your near future is in a very different place (both physically and mentally) from where you are right now.

For you, love is all about caring and comfort. You couldn't fall in love with someone you didn't trust.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

60% done with 20th C. Theology

The theologian of the day is.... James Luther Adams! JLA, himself. Twentieth Century Unitarian Christian who never wrote a systematic theology - but wrote lots of articles and taught social ethics and theology at Meadville-Lombard Theological School, the U of C Div School (I think), Harvard University, and was the social conscience of a generation (at least) of ministers.

Monday was humanist theologians - ...John Dietrich, Anthony Pinn, Bill Murry.
Tuesday was Henry Nelson Wieman and "The Source of Human Good."
Today was JLA.
Tomorrow is Rita Nakashima Brock & Rebecca Parker - "Proverbs of Ashes;" and John B. Cobb, Jr. & David Ray Griffin - Process Theology (explaining Alfred North Whitehead).
Friday is Jerome Stone - religious naturalism; and Sharon Welch "A Feminist Ethic of Risk."

My brains are going to leak out of my ears... Intensives are, well, intense.

I did have a bright spot - lunch with Jess, wife of a fellow seminarian. We did not talk about theology!

I miss my husband, my kids & my cats. Two more days.

Now, I have to read the assigned chunks of Stone's "Minimalist Vision of Transcendence." Blessings to you, whoever you are

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Do UUs Pray?

(No, it's not my laundry. The image is Tibetan prayer flags.)

I've been thinking about prayer lately. Several of the readings for my class on 20th Century liberal theology are on humanism - and how it's evolved over the past century. The "Old" Humanism was very cold, analytical, rational - all head and no heart. One minister of this era, Rev. John Dietrich, denigrated (I think) the practice of prayer in a sermon titled Unitarianism and Humanism. He states that we are responsible for the future of society, and the life of all humanity, then says " can we keep on dallying with the petty manners in religion -- reading bibles, mumbling prayers, throwing ourselves in the arms of Jesus."

Well. I understand the quandary - if one doesn't believe in a deity, to whom does one pray? How does one pray? What good is it, anyway, if one rejects the notion that an entreaty to a supernatural being can have any real effect on this world?

I have a quote in my head from Rev. Jack Mendelsohn that has stuck with me - it may be a paraphrase: "prayer doesn't change people, but prayer changes people and people change things."

My kind of prayer is not typical. I meditate in a buddhist style, but I also pray occasionally. I don't pray with my hands folded and my head bowed. I don't approach prayer with an excess of sorrow or humility, apologizing to an unseen deity for all my wrongdoing. I know - and if one exists, god knows, already. I approach prayer with my arms open for the blessings of the world = both to give and to receive. My eyes are wide open, mindful of what is right here right now, so I may see the beauty, and the pain. Seeing the beauty makes me want to transform the pain, makes me yearn for healing and look for a way to help.

I also make a claim on what I see, I claim it to be what is real - and I claim that there is love and goodness here, and I make a promise to nurture the love and goodness. In claiming what is real, I also have to claim that there is evil here, and I hope to find a way to stop or prevent the evil I can and to help those who suffer from unavoidable evil (disasters such as hurricanes). There is a deep knowing running through the spirit of all humanity, and when awakened to the reality of the possibility of well-being, one can't help but try to make this a real reality.

Does this make any sense, or am I just getting punchy from all the reading and the papers I've written?

Friday, July 14, 2006

Bored, well no - Procrastinating

Blogthings again...

Your Linguistic Profile:
55% General American English
20% Upper Midwestern
20% Yankee
0% Dixie
0% Midwestern

Pretty accurate - but I don't see how I can speak 20% Upper Midwestern & 0% Midwestern at the same time? It also adds up to less than 100%...

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Lightening Up a Bit

So - my dh is a member of the sf books forum & one of their threads lately is for people to go take a test that tells you which science fiction writer you are - kind of like a blogthing for sf geeks. I took the test & here's what it said:

I am:
William Gibson
The chief instigator of the "cyberpunk" wave of the 1980s, his razzle-dazzle futuristic intrigues were, for a while, the most imitated work in science fiction.

Which science fiction writer are you?

This is a little surprising! I expected to be Ursula LeGuin or Mercedes Lackey, someone female at least. I have read & enjoyed Gibson's work in the past, though not recently. Anyway - if you're into sf, give it a try.

Update: My dh is Gregory Benford, according to the test - a writer with whom I'm not familiar...

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Mourning Too Young

My son called last night to apologize for having been rude on the phone the night before. I had noticed that he seemed a little "off" - and attributed it to my call having interrupted something important. Being the mom of a 20-something, I'm used to this and had just shrugged it off. He went on to say that he'd been upset when I called as he was dealing with some bad news. A friend of his had died over the weekend. This friend was just a few years older than M1, and his death has hit my son hard.

I wanted to comfort him. I offered the opinion that all the good his friend has done in his short life will live on, in the people he touched and the lives he affected. M1 agrees, his friend lived large - a big fish in a small pond as it were - and will be remembered. I suggest that I include his name in the remembrances portion of the annual New Year's service I present at church, and M1 asks "is he famous enough for that?" I remind him that the remembrances includes locally important/influential people, too; and he says that including his friend would be a good idea.

He's not dealt with the death of a peer before. Great-grandparents died when he was very young, one grandfather died when he was 11 years old, but as M1 said "You expect people to die when they're old." One doesn't expect a healthy 25-year-old man to die suddenly.

When my dh and I talked later, we remembered each of us having this experience in high school. A car accident claimed the lives of three students in his school one Friday night - Monday morning dh sat in a class behind an empty desk, previously occupied by one of the dead students. Two years after graduation, one of dh's two best friends committed suicide. For my part, a friend from my class and her boyfriend died in a car accident. A year later, the son of my guidance counselor committed suicide.

It seems to be some sort of macabre rite of passage - an abrupt lesson in one's own mortality - that we all pass through. I joke about adolescents believing they're "fifteen and bullet-proof," but it's not much of a joke. We do not believe in the possibility of our own demise until someone close to our age dies. It is a cruel lesson, perhaps, but one that may be necessary for survival. Some things we just refuse to believe until reality smacks us in the face. M1 has done some stupid things, and I know he's regarded himself as 'too young to die.' I hope that when he gets past the initial grief that he takes his own life more seriously and acts with more care for the consequences.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Biker's paradise

My dh set off on his bike this morning for the 50+ mile trek to our vacation site. We'll meet him there about noon - it's only an hour's drive by car! He has a new "trunk" on his bike now, with a special cell phone pocket & everything, much nicer than the old 'grocery bag' style pannier bags. Now I'd better go finish packing & get M* & R in gear! M-1 will be feeding the critters and taking care of the house while we're gone.
Update: DH is now at the halfway point on his ride. I think he'll make it there before we will. This will probably be my last entry for awhile.
Another Update: DH called from the dock, before we were ready to leave the house! He had a great week of biking with his LGSA buddies.
Final Update: On the way home at the end of the week, DH got about 15 miles along when a tire blew. It was so hot & he was going so fast, the rubber just burned out. Thank goodness for cell phones! He called just as we were almost home; so I dropped off our daughters, switched cars (the a/c in the van doesn't work), and went back to pick him up. All is well.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

LGSA Vacation

The administration building porch, George Williams Campus of Aurora University.

Tomorrow we're off to the Lake Geneva Summer Assembly of Unitarian Universalists, which has been held for more than 50 years on the shores of Lake Geneva in Williams Bay, WI. Actually, the official name is now Midwest Unitarian Universalist Summer Assembly, or MUUSA. This is the last year we'll be gathering at this location. The owners of the facility have razed half the old buildings already, with more slated for demolition, for the creation of an updated conference center that will accomodate less than half the number of folks who've been coming to LGSA. A new location is being sought.

There will no doubt be tears & drama during the week, as people bid farewell to familiar places. I know one couple who have it in their wills that their ashes are to be scattered there!