cultural absurdity, healthy living, real living in a virtual world

The Great American Mind Hack.

Irma’s gone -we’re all fine- and wreaked a bit of havoc on some of our extended family farther north. Except for the loss of power and few trees down, they are all fine as well. Floridians south and west of us took much harder hits, so keep them in your prayers and donate money (or not) to whatever charities you will. I wouldn’t however, suggest large doses of media coverage about this storm’s aftermath. I felt the same way about Harvey and was less much anxious about Irma as a result.

All of this brings me to the point of this post: the great American mind hack. It’s real, it’s relentless, and our only defense is awareness and diligence to maintain a firewall against the hackers. This friends, is not easy. At least it isn’t for me. I have been going into overdrive with this one of late, and I still find myself needing to continuously update my firewall.

I don’t have much to add except for a few excellent links I’ve recently encountered on the subject. The first is an article in which Zuckerberg and company pretty much admit they are all about taking away your privacy AND your anonymity as these are vices which allow you to harbor and express your deepest thoughts uncontested and unmolested. Here’s an teaser from How Sillion Valley is erasing your individuality:

To take another grand theory, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg has exclaimed his desire to liberate humanity from phoniness, to end the dishonesty of secrets. “The days of you having a different image for your work friends or co-workers and for the other people you know are probably coming to an end pretty quickly,” he has said. “Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity.” Of course, that’s both an expression of idealism and an elaborate justification for Facebook’s business model.

In a sphere of anonymous (or at least semi-anonymous) bloggers, that should make you shudder regardless of your ideology. Eponymity for everyone! Which is one of the hundreds of reasons we don’t like Facebook.

In that same vein, this interview with Franklin Foer,  the writer of the first piece, where we see a theme begin to emerge:

And you think we’re being manipulated into giving up our privacy? The book mentions that Silicon Valley libertarianism gets all the attention, but you say that the “collapse of the individual” is actually the guiding ethos. How did you come to that?

To be clear, “Silicon Valley” is a fairly glib and imprecise term, so when I use it, I am referring to its elites, and to its thought leaders, not to the average engineer.

I started just watching every YouTube video I could get of a town hall meeting featuring Larry Page, Mark Zuckerberg, and so on. I started listening to what they were saying and it wasn’t a lot of screeds against government or celebrations of the heroic individual. What I found was this love of all things social. The network is the most fetishized concept in the valley, and as I listened, I began to think the real danger was the collectivism. They were so obsessed with achieving some sort of new global consciousness, and I found them to be completely immune to all reasonable anxieties about the state of the individual.

If supposed libertarianism is getting too much attention, which attitude do you think we’re not looking at enough?

Monopoly. When you listen to most people in Silicon Valley talk about the network they talk about it as a winner-take-all system. The idea of the network is that you make a bet on the right company and they capture the network and all the other market players disappear. I think that’s a very common way of thinking.

If you listen to the way that people like Larry Page talk about competition, they abhor the idea of competition. They think of it as something that’s almost beneath them. So rather than competing against Apple, or Uber, they would much rather focus on their moonshot ideas and doing something truly transformational, and this replicates language that we’ve heard throughout history.

The last link is a video that Hearth shared with me a few days ago, on which the title of this post is based.  The distinctions he makes betweem pleasure and  happiness, and the result of the conflation of the two and the aggressive marketing of plasure seeking onto the American populace is enlightening. I also appreciated his distinction between marketing and propaganda.

Yeah, yeah, I know none of this is news to most people who read here, but it’s worth a listen because we’ve evolved to the point where technology can provide that dopamine *hit* for many people. I am slightly hesitant to buy into this too much, but only because the word addiction makes me uncomfortable due to its ability to offer cover for people in situations where they really can just dig deep and learn to stop it.

Some food for thought I thought worth passing on.

 

 

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Common sense, Life hacks, real living in a virtual world, Uncategorized

Friday Frivolities 11: Proper focus edition.

I was thinking about modern life, and how to enjoy our novel conveniences and creature comforts without internalizing the worst traits modernity opens the door to.

For example, being healthy and fit is good. Health is not a frivolous pursuit. Being obsessed with health and fitness to the point of obsession, however, reduces it to vanity and creates a frivolous pursuit of perfection at the expense of dealing with weightier matters Hearthie dropped a few links in the comments sextion recently which brought this to the forefront of my thinking.

The Dreamstress offered two posts exploring the shifts in what was considered the “ideal figure” in generations past. You can take a look at those here and here. As I read through them, looking at the advertisements and pictures, it struck me that most every one of the body types offered as ideal were within striking distance of most of women simply through eating moderate amounts of real, fresh, food, and eschewing junk food. In addition, by just avoiding a sedentary life; not sitting around all the time.

Today’s ideal however, is out of reach for most normal men and women without copious amounts gym time and usually cutting out whole food groups (cookies are not a food group). In other words, it requires that we spend a lot of time thinking about things that we wouldn’t have had to think about so much in a different time and place.That’s not an indictment of any person’s chosen path to good health. After all I’m starting a Whole 80 myself this month. I am just as modern as the next person, but it still strikes me more and more recently.

The other thing I’ve been thinking about is the culture of distraction. It started as I read Magistra’s posts (here and here) on the book Deep Work, by Cal Newport. That book is on its way to my house as I type. I hope. I also picked up The Organized Mind during my recent library trip. I guess it’s obvious that clarity of mind is on my list of things to discover and/or recapture.

In the meantime, Hearthie shared this video with me which -in about 20 minutes- offers a Cliff’s notes version of Deep Work with strategies we can start today:

Have a great weekend!

family life, real living in a virtual world, wife stuff

Marriage should be a beautiful symphony, not a tug of war.

.Much has been said about the difficult time we Westerners have with the uneasy balance between our ideals and harsh realities. This is true in many areas including our thinking about Christian marriage.

We share with our daughters the principles of Christian marriage by example. Scripture is powerful, but the repeated New Testament commands for us to “one another” makes it clear that quoting verses alone falls short. On a recent walk, my girls and I touched on the blessing -and responsibility- of living in submission to a husband’s authority, and imagined -as that’s really all we can do- the blessing and responsibility of living with the authority of paternal and husbandly headship.

As I took the time to think about the things I read on the matter, the picture which emerges is often sad and adversarial to the point of being toxic. It also stands in stark contrast to my own marital experience. We never fought a lot. The occasional disagrement? Yes, but fighting as a regular occurrence just didn’t happen. The reasons for that were not always the healthiest, but it only took a few short years to get to the point that we realized it is best to deal with disagreements when they arise if the law of love was principal driver.

The headship/submission model, when viewed it as a blessing rather than simply a burden to both parties, is a beautiful interplay between two people who understand the gift that God has given them. As we love, with full understanding of the weight of responsibility and accountability towards God and eah other, our chlldren also benefit

In a world where everyone is clamoring for what they believe is rightfully theirs -authority, respect, validation, and affirmation- children of Christian parents should get to see that these things flow naturally when the law of love, rather than the law of grasping for power or control, rules. It should go without saying (leaving aside extreme cases and eggregous sins) that getting you off your mind and focusing on blessing someone else leads to greater life satisfaction and happiness. However, and I know I say this a lot, nothing goes without saying anymore.

I can’t imagine seeing my husband’s authority as a vicious constraint put on me by an angry God solely to hold me down and keep me in check, but also believe that He has graciously put his spirit in me to guide me into all Truth. Isn’t that contradictory? My husband can’t imagine a life where every single tiny difference of opinion or act that annoys is an attempt to usurp his authority or an attempt to test his fitness so I can decide whether I want to stay or go. If I’m manipulating, and sometimes I fall into that, a swift and sure calling out sets things right quickly enough without thoughts speeding headlong into the notion that I am ripe to file for frivorce.

What kinds of Christians view sex and money in marriage as commodities for which each has traded for in marriage? Where in the New Testament do we see this as a way to approach a relationhip that God has says mirrors the relationship between Jesus our Messiah and His Body? It’s disgusting really, and I am so very thankful for a strong, dominant, yet loving husband who allowed the Spirit to teach him how this thing is supposed to be done.

The result, and trust me on this, is a beautiful interplay between people who know how to love, who respect authority and submission, and still appreciate the unique gifts and talents God has placed in the members of the family to be a blessing to its other members.

So when the man says to me (as he justifiably did quite recently), “Please don’t ever walk out of my house again dressed like that”, it didn’t take long for me to appreciate that he was right to object. I am after all, representative of his glory. The only reason I should be offended by his request is thinking of myself as a free agent representing myself only.

When I suggested that it would be best to wait before embarking on a new household project he is considering, he understood that I wasn’t usurping his authority. Rather, I was doing exactly as he had instructed, keeping record of the accounts as we updated our house over the summer.

If either one of us had been conditioned to see every little question, comment, or slight as a “spit test” on my part or lording of authority on his part, how miserable we would be!

It’s sad that many if not most believing women find the very idea of submission offensive, and that some believing men think headship means any independent thought their wives express is evidence of ftness testing or hypergamy.

For those *teaching* women: You don’t do any favors by telling sincere and well-menaing women that they are vile creatures simply because they display any evidence of being human and that their husband’s less than stellar, but equally human tendencies, are all their fault and that their men would become perfect specimens of godly leadership if only the women would submit right. Talk about manipulation and subversion!

After all…who’s supposed to be leading whom here?

It is so beautiful and comforting when you expect the best of your mate, refusing to assume the worst. Also, as bad a rap as romance gets, it’s kind of romantic and sexy too. And not just for him, thank goodness. God is not trying to make our walk in this life even more difficult than it already is by making enemies of those He gave us to ease our load.

So please…re-examine the Scriptures and your ways of thinking about these things. You’re missing out on SO much if you don’t.

American identity, Humility is important, real living in a virtual world

Thoughtful commentary by thoughtful, thinking men.

I’ve been knee deep in family celebrations and get togethers for the past little bit. Perhaps there will be more on that at a later date, but I took a bit of time to catch up on some of the writers that haven’t been winnowed from my formerly way-too-long reading list. Some of these are worth sharing. Some I fully agree with and others I appreciated for the opportunity to think about the implications. In no particular order:

To say that Garvey’s Ghost has been on a roll the past few posts would be an understatement. I really enjoy this guy. He thinks, and he makes sense, and even on the rare occasion when I have a quibble (for instance, I am just not into Pan-Africanism), I click away from his stuff with something to consider that is off the left or right’s beaten path.

Next up is Doug Wilson’s thoughts on using profanity. I *get* where he coming from here. I really do, and although I battle with cussing in my head at times, it is extremely rare for a cuss word to come out of my mouth. My husband, who can be pretty incisive with his words, and is known not to pull a verbal punch, finds profanity problematic as well. The difference is that rather than it being indicative of someone’s lack of love for the Lord, he sees it as a lack of ability to think well or quickly enough to convey the depth of one’s convictions or perspective without it.

I’m not particularly moved by squeaky clean language coming from a snooty, snobby, self-righteous person. I’m so over propriety draped over feigned piety that I could spit, and someone who uses a cuss word here or there -unless the setting or situation is wholly inappropriate- doesn’t really bother me all that much. It certainly doesn’t mean they’re a Hell-bound sinner. I said Hell. Is that permissible?

Buried in the comment thread of Doug Wilson’s post was a comment tangentially related to the subject matter, but this guy’s words resonated with me so deeply that I think they bear repeating for their spiritual value. It is this very conviction which has completely overhauled the way I view people. More importantly, the way I speak to and of them:

Over the last couple of years I’ve learned a lot more about how sinful I really am. The part that scares me is not that I sin, but that I don’t fully desire to be rid of it. I do at times, but at others I make accommodations for it’s presence. I’m not sure I know the difference between personal disappointment and disgust, and real repentance.

Yes, brother, whomever you are. I know exactly what you mean. If there’s any good from it, it’s that it keeps my heart tender towards others. Saints who know they are also sinners tend to be less snobby. Or we should be.

Lastly is a C.S. Lewis piece that I was reminded of by a commentator at Zippy Catholic’s. I cannot recall which post this was buried in, but the portion from Lewis they quoted was this bit:

Where men are forbidden to honour a king they honour millionaires, athletes, or film-stars instead: even famous prostitutes or gangsters. Fur spiritual nature, like bodily nature, will be served; deny it food and it will gobble poison.

I was motivated to go re-read the entire article which I hadn’t read in at least a decade, and it was well worth the re-read. Lots of good stuff there, regardless of whether or not you agree with the thrust of Lewis’ argument:

Well, between the reading and the writing of this post, lunch break has gone way over. If I was on somebody’s job, I’d be losing money.

Enjoy the rest of your day. All 15 of ya.

 

 

 

cultural absurdity, el's rabbit trails, Humility is important, real living in a virtual world

In defense of echo chambers.

Got your attention, huh?

This really isn’t a defense of echo chambers. Perhaps it is, but not the way echo chambers are commonly referenced. After only a week of serious winnowing, I almost immediately recognized a more consistent and prolonged state of peace in my mind and heart.

This is off the cuff, and I’m not going to spend time editing it, so bear with me and use your stellar intellects to fill the things that should go without saying. I know that’s sometimes hard in 2017 America, but just try. Really hard.

It is commonly accepted as a virtue in American life to be willing to have our assumptions challenged and hear other points of view. To the extent that we are willing to do that, no matter how destructive the form in which these challenge and viewpoints are offered, we are considered “reasonable”, “tolerant”, and “open” to other points of view.

In general, I am a big fan of hearing other points of view. I think it’s good to evaluate ourselves, our actions, and our ways of thinking rather than assume that we’re all good all the time or that nothing about us needs to change. This morning, however, I had a light bulb moment and realized that it’s one thing to be open to examining other points of view. That is a good thing.

It’s an altogether different thing to engage in repeated dialogue with people who have starkly different points of view from you, who disdain your perspective and whose perspective you equally disrespect.

So for example, if I want to read a thoughtful critique of another sister’s view point on marriage and family order or birth control, it is best for me to do that with the intent to read it, walk away from it and examine it without engaging in a dialog with her about it. In other words, I can read Christian feminist Rachel Held Evans’ book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood, consider her perspective (with which I still vehemently disagree even after reading the book) and walk away with my soul unscathed by a knock down drag out debate on some Internet forum.

Perhaps I am more cognizant as I am getting older. The husband said last night, “I still can’t believe we have three kids out of college. Where did the time go?” Things like that certainly give one pause about the importance of how she spends her time. I don’t even mind acknowledging that I am getting older because I have not -for the most part anyway- wasted my life.

It is simply healthier to have the lion’s share of our discussions on love, life, and even politics, with those who will encourage us in the values we truly believe are right. Echo chambers -particularly of the Christian variety- serve a distinct purpose.

If and when I engage in dialog with someone whom I disagree for any reason other than to truly understand or offer something to think about for the purpose of trying to help that person from a place of love rather than snobby, smug superiority, I am better off not bothering. To just keep my thoughts- and my fingers- to myself.

black in a multi-culti world, How to pick a guy, Humility is important, just for fun, real living in a virtual world

Friday Frivolities 8 : Slow to speak edition

I haven’t offered a lot of commentary lately as I’m making a point of listening more than “speaking”. Besides reading a lot of books on various topics, I’ve also listened to some interesting talks from those with much more flare and articulation than I can muster. I thought I’d share a few for my Friday Frivolities post.

Our girls are not terribly active on social media, but they do follow young Christian women who, like them, are bucking the cultural trend by saving sex for marriage and chronicling the challenges that come with it. In this TED talk Yvonne Orji, a successful actress and 33-year-old Christian virgin, relates her journey:

 

Next up, John Crist offers a very funny stand up act about kids these days:

This one sparked lots of thoughts about the difference in how kids are raised with each successive generation. When I was a kid, if we did our chores and homework, we basically ran wild until the street lights came on. Besides dinner conversation, Sundays at Ponderosa, and the occasional day trip to local attractions, our parents felt little compulsion to spend oodles of time watching over and playing with us.

With our older kids,  other neighborhood kids were there to run around with after school. There was a homeschool family whose house was at the corner of our block, and nearly every afternoon around 1 PM, little Luke would knock on our door and ask, “Can the girls come out?” and I would remind him that because they went to school, they wouldn’t be home until 3. After homework, they ran around with those kids as well as other kids from the neighborhood. I spent most of my quality time with them either reading to them or in the kitchen. They played more with their dad, but most of their play time was with other kids.

We still have two younger children and live in the same house as we did with the older three. If Halloween is any indication, there are still plenty of children in this neighborhood. However, if it’s not Halloween, you don’t them. This has increased the burden on parents to provide entertainment and/or play dates.  I think this makes for a generation of less adaptable kids from what I can tell, and that includes mine, despite the fact that they were born to two tough as nails, passionate, opinionated parents.  Moving on…

Pick  all the nits with me in this next one, LOL I may offer my thoughts in the comments but I’d rather first hear what you guys take away from this:

 

This next one is a TED talk by Sarah Knight that I have wrestled with sharing because she uses less than ladylike language. Very less in fact, but when a friend shared it with me it was a light bulb moment, and here’s why.

One of things that hinders us -or me at least- attending with intention to the things that we truly DO care about, is the fact that we offer too much of our time, energy, and in many cases money, to things that, if we stop to think about them, don’t matter to us in the grand scheme of things.

Some people avoid doing the wrong things by focusing hard on the right things. I wish I was one of those people. I need to first take inventory of what to discard, and with the newly cleared space (mental and emotional as well as physical), the things I want to give full intention to have room to flourish and I have fertile soil in which to grow. In other words, when I wasn’t giving my intention to the wrong things, my mind was free to focus on the true, the lovely, the noble, and things of good report.

Anyway, here’s the TED talk, but be warned that she uses the f-word, and repeatedly so. If you’re inclined to clutch your pearls, please just skip it:

*I know ZERO about Sarah Knight or hew views on anything other than this video, nor do I particularly care.

In the spirit of Sarah Knight’s talk, I also saw this post from a fellow bibliophile about the hazards of conflating social media acquaintance with real connections:

The Only People Who Care About You are Your Family- and if you’re lucky- a Friend or Two.

When I lost my father 18 months ago, two Internet friends whom I’ve never met -possibly three in fact as one was anonymous- sent flowers. That meant a great deal, so I won’t summarily dismiss every virtual acquaintance out of hand. However, I would dismiss the lion’s share and Major Styles hits some major points here worth considering. I think it’s something millennials in particular should be wary of.

Edited to add: I forgot to add this video Hearth made me aware of about the decline of religion in the modern West, and why its comeback is a long shot at best. As much as it pains me, I actually agree with this man. I don’t think the Bible’s prophetic trajectory offers a lot of hope for mass genuine revival in the West or anywhere else for that matter. We are to be about reaching souls, not salvaging a culture:

Lastly, but certainly not least by any stretch, is this sermon from Voddie Baucham. In it he reminds us of something powerful about the story of Noah and the Flood and it’s this:

In the flood (an awful display of God’s wrath, quiet as that’s kept), we tend to see ourselves from the perspective of Noah and his family. Bro. Baucham wonders if it occurs to any that plenty -most even!- of the people who drowned in that terrific judgement were not murderers, drunkards, or adulteresses. They were people like you and me, living normal lives and committing “run of the mill” sins.

I love Voddie Baucham’s sermons because they offer me the opportunity to express more gratitude for God’s astonishing grace, and a nice strong vaccination against smug self-righteousness.

Y’all really should really give it a listen.   I can’t think of a better way to set our hearts aright as we prepare for the Sabbath day.

Have a great weekend!

el's rabbit trails, healthy living, Humility is important, real living in a virtual world

Regroup. Refocus. Reset .

The past week was rough. There were challenges which shall go unnamed, and then I pulled a muscle in my lower back. Just. like. that. My summer of productivity and balance was thrown off track and replaced with stiffness, searing pain, and sitting. I’m much better now, and my man and the kids were amazing, but almost anything that required physical exertion or mental acuity was nigh impossible..

It is quite astonishing really, how easily I fall into the ease of unprofitable habits and routines when I don’t (or as was the case for me recently, simply can’t) keep up forward progress and focus on a plan.To say I let me down would be an understatement, but time to dust off the ol’ behind and get back to it.

I am looking forward to full throttle on Monday, and a return to what I’d started, which was embarking on shunning the negative and putting lots of energy into creative pursuits. In other words, getting back to what really matters and ignoring the things that don’t. The list of things that were sidelined last week included:

  • Sewing and home decorating
  • Party planning for a celebration at the end of this month
  • Gardening and yard work
  • Writing of the non-Internet variety
  • Lesson plan for at least the first half of the fall semester ( for homeschool and outside teaching obligation)
  • (Very slowly) crocheting a big blanket in time for fall
  • Doing some heavier reading and note taking for the aforementioned writing project

What did get done:

  •  A whole lot of mental clutter.
  • An overload of negative Internet news, chatter, and commentary.
  • Too much sugar and grains with four birthdays -each with cake- over 11 days
  • I did manage to make one of the cakes!
  • Cancelled workouts
  • Cancelled ministry obligations

Nature, it’s said, abhors a vacuum and in the absence of filling myself and my time with good things, the space was filled with useless things. Negative things that vex the soul. Not everything I read and heard was negative and/or useless but the scale was certainly tipped too far in the wrong direction. If I had been up and moving, I probably would not have even noticed most of the bad news I’d heard and was distracted by.

I was conversing with an acquaintance recently and she said, ” Makes me glad my give-a-damn broke…”

I had every reason to believe her. Based on the nature of the conversation we were having, all the evidence speaks to the fact that her “give-a-damn” is indeed, broken.

That has stuck with me for the past few days and I questioned whether mine is as broken as I sometimes tell myself. For the most part, I do pretty well with it, since I’ve had some good examples before me, my father and then my man, who lived their lives unapologetically, took their lumps, and made adjustments as needed without a lot of apparent internal angst.

Alas, I am not a man. I am a woman, and women tend towards caring what others are thinking. About us primarily, but also nearly everything else. The Internet exacerbates this tendency because let’s women love juicy tidbits, ego boosts, and gossip. Even the bits that begin with, “I’m just sharing this so you can pray…”

The best and only way to keep ourselves unspotted, unvexxed, and uninfected by the garbage is to not eat the bread of idleness. The lesson here for me, is that the next time I find myself too overwhelmed with pain or grief or challenges to focus my mind in a productive way, I’d be better off binge watching old episodes of Little House on the Prairie. And yes, I read my Bible and prayed for others. Just not 8-10 hours a day as a more spiritual woman may have done.

But I’m back. I actually got some painting done today. The summer of meeting goals and shattering expectations is back on, and after nearly 10 days of slacker-hood, I think it’s safe to say I’ll not pontificate as much. I will however be engaged in more serious reading and creative miscellany. 

Have y’all heard this song? I think many of you will really appreciate it. Listen. Yeah, it’s pop sounding but the lyrics are on point.

How to pick a guy, Humility is important, real living in a virtual world

Education only prohibits marriage if you overestimate its utility and value.

As of this summer we will be the parents of three college graduate daughters. We are engaged in plenty of the typical graduation rituals and family celebrations that go along with it. A good time will be had by all.

In the case of our oldest who graduated college at the tender age of 20, we already know that specific nature of the degree notwithstanding, it serves as a proxy for all kinds of things from employment to marriage. If what we witness is any indication, this is pretty much the standard operating procedure. Young people who actually finished their degrees, are reasonably articulate, and know how to work the “system” can land decent paying jobs, even outside of their degree fields.

One of the biggest mental hurdles for the millennial woman however, is not falling prey to the cultural memes of “Find yourself!”, “See the world!”, and “Experience life!” We have explained to our daughters that there is never a time-if you’re still breathing-  when you’re not experiencing life.

Thankfully, our daughters see the advantage of saving their money and planning their lives with their as yet nonexistent families in mind. Now. Because life is the sum total of the choices you make today, not something that just happens when and how you desire it.

Why does experiencing life necessarily mean a life free of encumbrance? We were 21 and 23 years old with three children under the age of two. If that wasn’t life, I don’t know what was. Which brings me to the point of this -hopefully short- post.

The shortage of eligible men has left women desperate to preserve their fertility.

Experts said “terrifying” demographic shifts had created a “deficit” of educated men and a growing problem of “leftover” professional women, with female graduates vastly outnumbering males in in many countries.

The study led by Yale University, involved interviews with 150 women undergoing egg freezing at eight clinics.

Researchers found that in more than 90 per cent of cases, the women were attempting to buy extra time because they could not find a partner to settle down with, amid a “dearth of educated men”.

I am college educated. My useless degree is shoved in our filing cabinet somewhere and I probably couldn’t find it if you paid me. My husband is not, but he is well educated in his specific career field and is constantly ensuring that his skill set doesn’t become obsolete.

In reality, he is far more educated than I am and has used what has been an admittedly fortuitous trajectory, considerable talent, and focus into a life that has had him the primary breadwinner for our entire marriage and the sole breadwinner for the last two decades of it.

Suppose when I met him I’d decided that because he wasn’t in college like I was, he wasn’t “worthy” of my time or attention, especially considering his rather edgy way of life at the time. I might have easily been just another statistic like the women in these articles, particularly since I am a black woman. The disparity of educational accomplishment between black men and women is greater than perhaps all other demographics combined.

Last month I had breakfast with a friend who was genuinely shocked when, as we conversed, I noted that my husband didn’t have a college degree. She “never would have thought that”.  Her husband had  met up with mine for the express purpose of picking his brain because he was that impressed and convinced that my husband might be able to provide some insight, even though he is both older and more formally educated than my husband.

It is with this frame of reference in mind that I remind our daughters that they will be making a grave mistake by limiting themselves strictly to suitors who are formally educated, using the acquisition of a college degree as their standard.

There is indeed, even with the stipulations I note, a dearth of marriageable men.

Given that reality, it makes very little sense to dismiss well earning electricians, plumbers, or other such tradesmen out of the sense of snobbery our culture works hard to infuse into women based on the fact that they have a college degree.

el's rabbit trails, just for fun, real living in a virtual world

Internal robo-responses

Respond-with-message-300x233

A running joke started here recently with regard to robo-messages. You know them, the instant message responses on your phone that you send when you can’t answer someone’s call at that moment:

  • Call you back in 15 minutes
  • Can’t talk, text me
  • What’s up?
  • Driving, call you right back
  • In meeting
  • Running late- be there soon
  • Sorry, I’m on a call right now
  • Send me an email

I have two personalized ones on my phone:

  • Homeschool in session, will call back at lunch.
  • In class- teaching

It just occurred to me that it is more distracting and requires more effort to push that message to someone while you’re driving than it would take to just answer the phone. That one is not a good idea. At all.

 

As is often the case when something hits the forefront of my thinking, the running joke has sparked a tip toe through the tulips of random thoughts. Specifically, the things that pop into my head when I get a call or a message from people in particular:

  • Oh, gosh. What’s wrong now?
  • She always makes me laugh
  • Hope my brother’s daily verse is a good one (as if there is a BAD Bible verse)
  • Please Lord, don’t let them have been in an accident
  • I do NOT feel like hearing about her drama of the week.
  • Whatever else this might be, it won’t be boring…
  • She always encourages me
  • Let me get prayed up before I call back.

In other words, I have a real problem with attaching assumptions to people and while I’m blessed that my internal robo message is as likely to be good or neutral as it is bad, I should work on jumping to conclusions.

There have been times when I was dead wrong.

Tell the truth. You have robo-thoughts/messages too. I know you do.

 

Humility is important, Living with other believers, real living in a virtual world

Thinking about what we think about

That might sound redundant, but it really isn’t. One of the reason I was so animated by the post I reblogged on Saturday is because I read it on the heels of similar thoughts. As is often the case, the spark which ignited this particular train of thoughts started with something my Benevolent Dictator said.

We were riding alone in the car recently, and it was quiet. It’s rather nice to be able to spend time alone without feeling a need to fill the blank space with noise and words just so that one or the other of us can feel *okay*. Sometimes it’s nice to just think. As we approached a red light the man said to me, rather out of the blue (with a disarming smile), “We have had a good life.” I could only agree, and added that we’ve also mostly had a good time, even when things were hard. And the silence returned.

I was not only encouraged but struck and blessed by this living example of one of my favorite verses of Scripture offered as I am working and praying diligently to master my own thoughts. Winnowing my thoughts, if you will. There are at least a few things my man could have used that time as opportunity to correct, admonish, or guide me about  doing them better. Instead he was considering how blessed we are. I wonder how often Christians actually think about what we think about.

Our culture has trained us to think of ourselves primarily in terms of what we do. How much we do, how well we do it, how much better we do it than others. Christian culture does this as well, but we’re mostly conditioned to think in terms of what we don’t do. You know, the *big sins*. Christians don’t steal, cheat, commit adultery, fornicate, drink (I grew up Baptist), dance (I grew up Baptist), or listen to worldly music (I grew up Baptist). I wanted to include lying, but it’s one of those things that get little more than lip service. I think my point is clear either way. To the extent that we meet the requirements of our “good Christians don’t do checklist”, we feel free to rest on our self-righteous laurels.

We give short shrift, however, to things we do that are equally sinful and even more damaging, because they are things which are harder for those on the outside looking in to see and identify. Rather than feeling compassion towards sinner and the struggling we take the position of the Pharisee, smug in our righteousness, good health, prosperity, and comfort, never really stopping to consider what these kinds of thoughts reveal about us, our lack of gratitude and our misunderstanding of grace.

Every moment we spend judging, criticizing, or comparing is a moment we are not spending focusing on the noble, beautiful or true. Crouching criticisms, comparisons and judgements in religious sounding jargon doesn’t change the what they are. Lipstick on pigs, and all that good stuff.

The question of course becomes, “How do we winnow our thoughts, training them and directing them into the place where they produce positive action rather than passive, smug self-satisfaction?”

I’m still working that one out in my own heart, but I wonder if we will ever reach a place where we commiserate and bond over the good, beautiful things rather than the bad*? It seems like a tall order which, at least for me, weighs on the heart a little.

*I have some thoughts about this in the lives of women in particular, but it will take some time to work them out enough to articulate well.