Monday, February 22, 2010
Not that I think it's spring yet. Sadly enough, I'm sure it will get back below freezing and snow some more before winter is truly over. But I will revel in the weather that today has brought and smile up into the sun as long as I can. I actually hope it does snow a little bit more to cover up this icy crust so that I can partake in one of my favorite pastimes, spring skiing. There's nothing like skate skiing along in leggings and a t-shirt. I try to remember that when I'm wishing for summer. My life is short enough, I want to find something to enjoy and appreciate every day of it rather than wishing each day away...
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Friday, February 19, 2010
Last night I was listening to all of the music that ITunes labels "inspirational" as I played solitaire and sang along to the music. Eventually the song, How Deep the Fathers Love for Us, began to play. I recognized it as a song that Vashti Grim, a friend from church, has sung for special music at church and instantly remembered how much I liked the song itself, but after listening to it again, I realized I had never really listed to the words, which caught my attention as I tried to sing along. As I got to the third verse, the words of the song brought tears to my eyes. "Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice call out among the scoffers." How often have I kept quiet during a theological debate at school because I was embarrassed to admit I was a Christian? I many times have I mocked God by doing this? How selfish have I been by not sharing my relationship with Him with my "school friends" and class mates? This song really reminded me how much my Heavenly Father has done for me and how little I often do for him. I pray that I keep this thought and the words of this song close to my heart, that I may strive to be a better testimony to all those around me.
How deep the Fathers love for us
how vast beyond all measure
that He should give His only son
and make a wretch His treasure
how great the pain of searing loss
the Father turns his face away
as wounds which mar the chosen one
bring many souls to glory
behold the Man upon the cross
my sin upon His shoulders
ashamed I hear my mocking voice
call out among the scoffers
it was my sin that held Him there
until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished
I will not boast in anything
no gifts, no power, no wisdom
but I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection
Why should I gain from His reward
I cannot give an answer
but this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom
Thursday, February 18, 2010
I find it so frustrating that when I have nothing going on in my life, there seems to be endless things to blog about. But when I have many exciting things going on at once, blogging becomes difficult. I guess I'll just start with a note about the weather. At first when the mercury hit 40, I was excited. I love that feeling that I get first in February, that spring is coming. But then it just gets icier and icier and wet and sloppy and muddy and I get over the excitement for forty degree weather and begin to loathe it. The fall count is up to 3: twice at school tomorrow, and once today on the way in my house. But the snow is melting very fast, which means that when real spring comes, there will be that much when it melts completely.
Today in my Pilates class, I realized how much I have improved in the 6 weeks since the class started. My instructor, Sunday, is so soothing to listen to, and does a really good job of watching each student to make sure we're doing the exercise right, physically adjusting us if we aren't. I can't believe how much I love Pilates. Although I'll be excited not to have to wait around for the class to start at 2:30 Tuesday's and Thursday's, I'm really going to miss the class. The class is held at Studio One Pilates and they offer other classes not through UAA, so I might see if there's one that fits into my schedule a little better. Otherwise, I'm going to buy the equipment that I've worked with so far and do the exercises and mat work at home. I love how strong I feel after each class, and how much my posture and overall movement has improved since the beginning of the class. For anyone who has thought about taking a Pilates class, I definitely recommend it.
Steve and I went to see Avatar last night at Century theater, and we loved it. Pandora was a beautiful planet and really displays the depths of James Cameron's imagination. We watched it in 3D, which really added to the movie, especially once Jake Sully arrived on Pandora; it was like we could have stepped into the movie, like the stalks of the various plants and the branches of the huge trees were extending into the theater. We had heard so much about this movie, and it's always nice when a movie lives up to its hype. I'm happy to say that Avatar even surpassed the hype for me, I thought it was more like an experience, like being on a ride in Disney World, than like watching a movie.
This semester I registered for Geology 111/L, which is Physical Geology with a lab, and I can't believe how much I love the class. Our teacher, Terry Nauman, is an amazing teacher, and the things we are learning about our earth are so significant and they make sense. I never really thought that rocks, volcanoes, sand dunes, ect. could be so interesting to learn about!
Friday, February 12, 2010
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Is America Still Making Men?
By Dennis Prager
Every society has to answer a few basic questions in order to succeed and even in order to survive. One of them is, "How do we make good men?"
The reason for the importance of this question is simple: Males untutored about how to control their natures will likely do much harm. Conversely, males who are taught to how to control themselves and to channel their drives in positive directions make the world a much better place. The good man is a glory of civilization; the bad man ruins it.
Throughout American history, American society asked, "How do we make men?" (It was understood that "man" meant a good man.) Anyone who thought about the subject knew that boys who are not transformed into men remain boys. And when too many boys do not grow up into men, women suffer and society suffers.
What is a man (as opposed to a boy)? The traditional understanding was that a man is he who takes responsibility for others - for his family, his community and his country - and, of course, for himself. A man stood for ideals and values higher than himself. He conducted himself with dignity. And he was strong.
For much of American history, making boys into men was understood to be of supreme importance, and society was usually successful. When I was a boy in the 1950s, without anyone expressly defining it, I knew what a man was supposed to be. And I knew that society, not to mention my parents, expected me to be one. It went without explicitly saying so that I would have to make a living, support myself as soon as possible and support a family thereafter.
When I acted immaturely, I was told to be or act like a man. I wonder how many boys are told to "be a man" today; and if they were, would they have a clue as to what that meant? It would appear that for millions of American boys, this has not been the reality for decades. Many families and society as a whole seem to have forgotten boys need to be made into men.
There are numerous reasons:
1. The distinction between men and boys has been largely obliterated. The older males that many American boys encounter are essentially older boys, not men. They speak, dress, and act similarly (think of men who "high-five" young boys instead of shaking their hands). And they are almost all called by their first names. Even when a boy (or girl) addresses an adult male as "Mr.," many men will correct the young boy or girl - "Call me" and then give the young person his first name. This is often true even with regard to teachers, physicians and members of the clergy. When a young person calls an adult by his first name, the status of the two individuals has been essentially equated. Boys need men to respect. It's not impossible to do so when they call men by their first names, but it makes it much harder.
2. Boys today have fewer adult men in their lives than ever before. Many boys are not raised by any father. More are not raised by a father who lives in the home full time. Nearly every teacher and principal American boys have in elementary and high school is a female. The boy's clergy person and physician may well be women. And few male figures in contemporary film radiate manhood as defined above.
3. The ideals of masculinity and femininity have been largely rendered extinct. Feminism, arguably the most influential American movement of the 20th century, declared war on the concepts of femininity and masculinity. And for much of the population, it was victorious. Indeed, thanks to the feminist teaching that male and female human beings are essentially the same (note, incidentally, that no one argues that male and female animals are the same, only human beings are), untold numbers of boys have been raised as if they were like girls. They were denied masculine toys such as play guns and toy soldiers, and their male forms of play - e.g., roughhousing - were banned.
4. America has become a rights-centered rather than a responsibility-centered society. Aside from helping to produce a pandemic of narcissism, the rights-centered mindset is the opposite of the obligation/responsibility-centered mindset that makes a boy into a man. It is not good for either sex to be rights-preoccupied; but it is particularly devastating to developing men, as men are supposed to be obligation-directed. The baby boomer generation helped destroy manhood in most of the ways described here. One additional example was its widespread slogan, "Make love, not war." One cannot come up with a more unmanly piece of advice: "Don't fight for your country, screw girls." If the greatest generation had adopted that motto, Hitler and Tojo would have won. A few years ago, the city of Chicago named a street after Hugh Hefner, a man who has played games much of the day and night, lived in pajamas and devoted his life to sex - quite a model of manhood for American boys.
5. There are few places where men can bond with other men. One major way men become men is by associating with other good men. The only places left where this normally takes place are sports teams and the military. The same holds true for boys. And much of society is now working on breaking the most significant all-boys institution, the Boy Scouts.
6. Males no longer have distinctive roles. Men do best when they are relied upon, when needed; and they feel most needed when they do something distinct from women. This exists today in sports and the military. It is symbolic - significantly so - that there are no more "men at work" signs on highways. Now "people" are at work. "Men" have disappeared.
7. Many churches and synagogues have been feminized. This has occurred in at least three important ways: Clergy are increasingly female (and touchy-feely males) - for the first time in Christian and Jewish history; G0d is often depicted as androgynous and no longer either demanding or judging (He just loves all the time); and religion has been changed from morally and theologically demanding to a therapeutic model. So religion, too, has become yet another place where boys encounter few men, and few masculine models (even in G0d, as noted, is no longer masculine).
8. Instead of the traditional American model of masculinity, which was a rare combination of masculine toughness and stoicism with doing good (e.g., Superman), boys are now taught to be preoccupied with their feelings and with (unearned) self-esteem. They are not even allowed to lose; all boys playing a sport are given trophies, not just winners.
9. Increasingly, marriage is regarded as optional. The most obvious expression of men assuming responsibility - marrying a woman and taking care of her and their children - is no longer a male ideal. Vast numbers of men quite openly admit to having problems with the C-word (commitment) and responsibility of being a family's sole breadwinner.
When boys do not become men, women assume their roles. But they are not happy doing so. There are any number of reasons American women suffer from depression more than ever before and more than men. It is difficult to believe that one of those reasons is not the very emasculation of men that the movement working in their name helped to bring about. And so, a vicious cycle has commenced - men stop being men; women become man-like; men retreat even further from their manly role; and women get sadder.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Monday, February 8, 2010
heading into my enchanted forest...
one of the items essential for a good day, my puffer jacket...
another essential item, my pack filled with books, snacks and water
essential item #3: my sorels!
essential item #1 my ride!
My day almost always starts with snuggles, and this morning Annabelle really wanted some attention...
And now when my mind should be filled with the significant historical events of the Qing Dynasty, all I am filled with is awe at the beauty of the sky this morning and the fresh snow that for some reason reminds me of spring.