Friday, February 24, 2006
american idol
Usually we just watch the train wrecks on American Idol and catch enough shows that we know who won. This time around I think I'll be watching more.

These are the folks I want to win:


Paris Bennett and Taylor Hicks are my personal favorites.

If I had to guess who would actually win, I'd say:


Katharine McPhee and Ace Young seem more likely to win. I didn't see Katharine sing, but Simon loved her. I didn't love Ace's version of 'Father Figure' but I just don't like the song. It seems like he'll be around for awhile.

Honorable Mention:


Ayla Brown is very likeable and has a good voice. I don't think she'll win, but I think she'll make it to the Top 6. I think Chris Daughtry also has a good chance to win. Elliott Yamin and Mandisa are great singers, too.

I like a lot of the contestants this year. I was sad to see Stevie Scott and Bobby Bennett go.

Anyone else watching? Anyone want to make a guess who will win?
posted by lochan | link
5 comments and fresh takes

Thursday, February 23, 2006
humility and inadequacy
A few months ago I gave a talk in Sacrament Meeting. For folks that aren't Mormons, in our church the members are asked to talk in church (as opposed to a priest or a pastor who gives a sermon) on a different subject each week. I was pretty nervous about the whole thing, but I felt like I really got something out of the talk. So, here's the abridged version.

We normally think of pride as being the opposite of humility. While pride is the opposite of humility on one side of the spectrum, inadequacy is the opposite of humility on the other. What pride and inadequacy have in common is that they are all about ourselves - whether we focus on our accomplishments or our flaws, we are still focusing on ourselves. Humility shifts the focus away from us - to God.

In the same way we need to avoid being prideful, we need to avoid giving in to feelings of inadequacy in the name of humility. True humility does not make us look down on ourselves. True humility helps us to look up to God.

Humility begins when we understand our true relationship to God. When we know that we owe everything to Him, we realize that our achievements and our possessions are not our own - everything we have is due to God. To really understand this is empowering and brings us closer to God.

Humility is an attitude toward God, ourselves and others that is positive - not negative or degrading. We can recognize our dependence on God and be willing to submit to His will, without feeling inferior or inadequate.

While pride is a refusal to submit or to exaggerate our worth, inadequacy is the other side of that coin. If we underestimate our own worth, we limit ourselves from service and concentrate too much on our selves. We are all flawed and we all make mistakes. But, if we have humility we will recognize God’s love for us and God’s view of our worth, we can also see that with God “all things are possible.” (Mark 10: 24-26)

Humility is a tricky quality. As soon as we think we might have it, we probably don’t. Focusing on humility is probably not the quickest path to finding it.

In C.S. Lewis’ book The Screwtape Letters, letters are written from a senior devil bureaucrat to a junior devil. Through the letters we see in negative what we should not do. Screwtape tells Wormwood “Your patient has become humble; have you drawn his attention to the fact? All virtues are less formidable to us once the man is aware he has them, but this is especially true of humility. Catch him at the moment when he is really poor in spirit, and smuggle into his mind the gratifying reflection 'By Jove! I’m being humble' and almost immediately pride - pride at his own humility - will appear.”

Screwtape goes on to speak of the need to “conceal from the patient the true end of humility... Let him not think of it as self-forgetfulness but as a certain kind of opinion (namely a low opinion) of his own talents and character.”

To quote C.S. Lewis again “Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, cleverer, or better-looking than others. If every one else became equally rich, or clever, or good-looking there would be nothing to be proud about. It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone.” So, really, pride is simply a thinly veiled sense of inadequacy.

Humility is not about focusing on ourselves - humility is about forgetting ourselves and submitting ourselves and being teachable, open and willing to serve. Inadequacy is all about ourselves - what we lack, where we fall short. Concentrating on these things does not bring us closer to God. What inadequacy and pride have in common is an inward focus on the self that is off-balance.

Last week I read a book about simplicity and the author listed questions that the world asks and questions that christian simplicity asks. I think humility and inadequacy can easily be used instead:

Inadequacy asks, “How can I get more?”
Humility asks, “What can I do without?”
Inadequacy asks, “How can I find myself?”
Humility asks, “How can I lose myself?”
Inadequacy asks, “How can I win friends and influence people?”
Humility asks, “How can I love God?”

I would also add that Inadequacy says, “I can’t do this.” And Humility says, “I can’t do this on my own, but with God’s help, I can.”

To be humble is not to be weak. James 4:10 says, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up.” Bishop Richard Edgley spoke of the power of humility. He said, “Humility is often misunderstood and considered a weakness. Yet as we learn about the workings of God, the power of a humble and submissive spirit becomes apparent. In the kingdom of God, greatness begins with humility and submissiveness.” The power of humility is the power to meet life’s challenges, it is the power of peace, of hope, and of love. It is the power of redemption.

Christ gave us the ultimate example of a life of humility. Jesus said, “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” (John 5:30) He humbly washed His disciples’ feet. After washing the disciples' feet, Jesus said (John 13:14), "If I then, the Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another's feet."

When the disciples asked Jesus “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” He answered by placing a child in their midst and said, “Whosoever.. Shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of Heaven.” Christ submitted his will to the Father to bring about the greatest and most powerful event in history. Christ’s atonement for us was the greatest act of submissiveness and humility.
posted by lochan | link
7 comments and fresh takes

Friday, February 17, 2006
what do I hear?


A person hears only what they understand.
-Goethe

I don't think I have experienced sexism in my life. Sure, I've met a few dorks who think they are better than women, but that just seems like their insecurities showing. None of these said dorks have had any authority over me or made choices that affected my life. I've also met women who think they are better than men by virtue of their gender. I don't get that either. It seems less insidious, but I'm not sure it is.

My mother went to college and worked. Both of my grandmothers went to college and worked. From the time I was little I wanted to be a stay at home mom. As I got older, I hoped that I could somehow work and stay home. I wasn't sure if I would be able to, but I have. Besides a few months here and there, I have always worked since I married. I have not worked in an office since Grace was 3 months old and I haven't had a job interview since 1992. I don't expect to ever work for someone else again in my life. I feel lucky to be self-employed.

I am thankful that I have been able to work and still be at home and be with my kids. My work is just a small section of my life, and I don't value it that much. What I do for no pay has far more worth to me. But, honestly, I don't know how it would feel not to earn an income. I think that would be a somewhat scary place to be, but I think I could get used to it.

I have always felt that I have had choices. My mother and grandmother had choices. I don't know anyone personally who is limited because they are a woman. Maybe I just don't see it, because I like my life and I'm happy with my choices. That, and my husband does all the laundry and shares a lot of the chores around the house despite the fact that his job is more stressful than mine. I might be more pissy about the whole issue if he didn't.

I don't primarily identify myself as a feminist because I'm uncomfortable with a lot of the feminist rhetoric out there, the main feminist agenda seems to be keeping abortions legal, and I don't feel like my legal rights are affected because of my gender.

I would identify myself as a staunch feminist if I felt my legal rights were affected by my gender.

I do identify myself a feminist in terms of validating women's experiences and girl stuff. I think they are often de-valued. I identify myself as a feminist if that means that women should have equal opportunity and choices.

I know that historically women have been very limited. Women have only had the vote for 86 years in this country. I'm thankful to the women who fought for that right, and the men who finally allowed it. I recognize that women's legal rights in other countries are often very limited. I recently watched a PBS show on bride kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan. That kind of gender discrimination blows my mind. Like bride burning in India. Or, the fate of many baby girls in China. Or the fact that women can't even drive in Saudi Arabia. Or, that worldwide the literacy rate for women is much lower than it is for men.

I think maybe in the end it is really just a matter of what label you are comfortable with. And, the label is the least important part.
posted by lochan | link
6 comments and fresh takes

Tuesday, February 14, 2006
conversation


David: Her last name is Rib, so I keep wanting to call her McRibwich.

Me: Of course you do.
posted by lochan | link
1 comments and fresh takes

Friday, February 10, 2006
scooter sleeping


When Scooter really falls asleep, his arms and legs go straight out. And so does his tongue. The girls think it is the funniest thing they've ever seen.

He is pretty cute.
posted by lochan | link
4 comments and fresh takes

Wednesday, February 01, 2006
January Reading


Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis
Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance.

I really enjoyed this book. Lewis eloquently defends and explains Christianity in a clear and logical way. I especially enjoyed his thoughts on pride.


How to be Good by Nick Hornby
It seems to me now that the plain state of being human is dramatic enough for anyone; you don't need to be a heroin addict or a performance poet to experience extremity. You just have to love someone.

Great book. I almost picked up Hornby's About a Boy a few years ago (I saw the movie instead - and loved it). I didn't know what I was missing. Hornby is a wonderful writer. His characters and very real and everyday.

In this story, Katie Carr's marriage is suffering because her husband is angry and sarcastic. She doesn't want to divorce him, but she doesn't want him to be who he is. She wants to still be married to the father of her children, to have her family's structure intact, but she wants him to change almost completely. When he actually does drop the sarcasm and becomes a do-gooder, it is harder for her to deal with his new identity than his old one.

This book is funny, thought provoking, and sad. I didn't like the ending at first, but the more it has settled, the more right I think it was.


A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby

Four people who would never normally even associate with each other help each other in odd ways. They have each decided to commit suicide and they find themselves all on the roof of the same tall building, but instead of jumping they decide to help the young girl in the group.

The story is told from each of the four people's perspectives and Hornby does a good job of keeping each voice distinct. He explores their reasons for not wanting to live and their relationships with each other in a funny and thoughtful way. I'm not doing the book justice with my description here, but I highly recommend it.


Morality for Beautiful Girls by Alexander McCall Smith

This is the third in the the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series about a lady detective in Botswana. I read the first two and really enjoyed them. This book reads much the same as the other two. It's funny, sweet and entertaining. In the end, though, while I thought this book was solidly good, it was as good as the first two.


Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates


Whatever you felt on hearing the news of conception, even if it was chagrin instead of joy, wasn't it supposed to be something the two of you shared? Your wife wasn't supposed to turn away from you, was she? You weren't supposed to have to work and wheedle to win her back, with little jokes and hand-holdings, as if you were afraid she might evaporate at the very moment of this first authentic involvement of your lives - that couldn't be right.

The editorial review on Amazon said that "Like F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, this novel conveys, with brilliant erudition, the exacting cost of chasing the American dream." I think that is absolutely not what this novel conveys. The main characters, a young married couple with two kids, are not chasing the American dream, they disdain it. They don't seem to care about money, they find their suburban neighbors contemptible and boring. They long to escape not only their neighborhood, but their country as well.

Their rocky marriage blooms for a short time under the wife's idea to move to Europe. She plans to work and allow her husband to quit his boring job. When he wonders what he'll do, she asks are only writers and artists entitled to lives of their own? Her short-lived belief in Frank (the husband) as an extraordinary person who can accomplish great things if he could just find himself both thrills and scares him.

This is a incredibly well written story that sucks you in and has you rooting for the characters even though it's obvious from the first chapter that these are not people who will make good choices for themselves. They are morally rootless and the pain they cause each other (and themselves) seems pointless and avoidable.

Highly recommended, but definitely PG-13 (although I wouldn't recommend it for a 13 year old).


Hungry Planet

This is a book put out by the same people who wrote Material World (a book that showed families from all over the world with all of their possessions laid out in front of their house). This book shows families with all of the food that they eat in one week. It's a very interesting book.

posted by lochan | link
4 comments and fresh takes

Name: Laura

I have five kids including triplets. I'm too busy to blog, but I do anyway (uh, sometimes).

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Morality for Beautiful Girls
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How to be Good
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Mere Christianity
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