Monthly Archives: April 2007

Stress Eats Our Brains

It’s stressful around here. At any moment I will look out the window and see Liza’s sonogram being lit on a cloud and will rush home, and that adds an element of uncertainty and fear to my life. This is a roundabout way of me saying “Do not be surprised if we make odd posts over the next several days.”

In other surreal news, my NPR/classical music radio station played Danny Elfman’s score for Tim Burton’s first Batman movie. I was listening and kept thinking, huh, why does this sound so familiar?

The World, It is Calmer Now

So in the quest to relieve my anxiety (it also turns out Stephen had a fair dose as well) my mom is here. So now, if the baby doesn’t come this week my mom and I will have the nursery fully organized, the house cleaned, Stephen’s mass of shirts ironed and when we’re bored we might just put up Eli’s jungle gym in the back yard.

Friday Night Videos: I Used to Have Adult Fans

Dan Zanes and Friends: Jump Up (2007)

Hey, remember The Del Fuegos? “Don’t Run Wild”? “I Still Want You?” Yeah, them. Their frontman, Dan Zanes, does kids’ music now, and it’s on heavy rotation on the Disney Channel. Anyway, this video is fun and all, but it’s more fun to invent a story to go with it. “Hey, I was just out walking my upright bass and heard you guys playing. He loves to join in impromptu street performances!”

They Might Be Giants: Flying V (2005)

Goodness knows They Might Be Giants’ songs, with their loopy wordplay and odd instrumentation, work well for kids. Eli’s a big fan of “Particle Man,” for instance. But their songs aimed at kids are even better, as this example from their alphabet-propaganda album “Here Come the ABCs” shows.

Hey, let’s have some bonus videos!

Zelda Zii, a live-action recreation of Nintendo’s venerable videogame series. Sadly they countersink a number of the jokes, but the fight scenes are fun. And time on YouTube has made me appreciate people who edit their short films intelligently.

Since I didn’t do a bonus video last week, let me make up for it this week by giving you all three Die Hard movies (plus the upcoming one!) turned into a rock song by Guyz Nite. In the future, instead of watching the actual movies, people will just watch this video. Be warned: cursing, gunplay, and totally awesome explosions abound.

This reminds me that I have yet to explain why the original Die Hard is such a well-constructed action movie.

Flair of the Spirit

How do you know who’s a Christian?

That’s not an easy question. No definitional one is. If you’d like to prove that statement, go into a room of geeks and ask, “How do you know what science fiction is? What’s fantasy? How do you tell the difference?” Then run very far away.

But to return to my original question, how do you know? Sure, people can profess to be Christians, but how can you be sure? It’s not as if we have a Christianity detector, or any other reliable way of reading people’s thoughts and opinions and categorizing them. We’re left with looking for external evidence of an internal state.

Christianity is supposed to be transformative. It’s supposed to make a difference in your life. One outward manifestation of this is supposed to be the fruit of the Spirit.

“Fruit of the Spirit” is one of those Christian terms of art. Roughly speaking, the Holy Spirit is God in us, guiding us and strengthening us. If the Holy Spirit is in us, we should demonstrate its fruit, as Paul talked about in Galatians.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)

These are not exclusively Christian concepts, and Christians do not have a monopoly on them — in fact, based on the actions of a number of groups that identify themselves as Christian, we don’t display much of the fruit of the Spirit at all. So how do you use this to judge who’s Christian and who isn’t?

That’s why so many of us Christians don’t pay any attention to the fruit of the Spirit. We make up our own metrics, like political beliefs or stances on scientific matters. It’s how we end up declaring Bill Clinton to be a Christian in name only while affording full Christianhood to Ted Haggard.

Even that isn’t really good enough, though. Sure, elected officials and people in the media end up talking about what they believe, but how do I tell whether the guy on the train next to me is Christian or not? We need some obvious sign that a person is Christian. We need something like…

A play on the Staples 'Easy' button

Why, like that!

Christianity has always gleefully appropriated non-Christian symbols, the Christmas tree and the ichthys being prime examples. “Christian” shirts are the apotheosis of that practice. That’s not the real problem. The real problem is using this sort of junk to identify ourselves as Christians. It’s as if we’re not content to know that we’re Christian and act accordingly. We need to broadcast it to the world. So we put on t-shirts and buttons and WWJD bracelets, and we make sure everyone can see them.

There’s a name for all of these trinkets.

Joanna: You know what, Stan, if you want me to wear 37 pieces of flair, like your pretty boy over there, Brian, why don’t you just make the minimum 37 pieces of flair?
Stan: Well, I thought I remembered you saying that you wanted to express yourself.
Joanna: You know what, I do want to express myself, okay. And I don’t need 37 pieces of flair to do it.

Office Space gave the name “flair” to the buttons and other crap the waitstaff at restaurants like Bennigan’s wear to “express their personality”. It’s a wonderful word, flair. It indicates both the supposed purpose of the buttons and the cynical, soul-less motive behind it.

That’s what we’ve bought into. Instead of taking true Christian ideals, internalizing them, and trying to demonstrate Jesus’s love to those around us, we comfort ourselves by wearing trinkets. That way everyone around us can see our Flair of the Spirit.

It Turns Out, Being Pregnant Isn’t Much Fun.

This is a post that contains a bit of TMI about my personal physical situation. Don’t read the fourth paragraph if you don’t want to know the gory details.

So for the past two days, I’ve felt like crap. There just isn’t any nice way to say that. It’s how I’ve felt and I know I’ve been a bit of a grump about it. I have painful Braxton Hicks contractions that only go away if I lie down on my left side. My back has hurt and I’ve felt just gross. Well this morning I woke up at 5:30 with a bit of a panic attack. I got in the shower because being in the water always makes me feel better. It did make me feel physically better but the anxiety wouldn’t go away, so I called my doula.

She was great. She told me to take a warm bath, drink some tea and try to go back to sleep. The subtext of which was all, “Get a grip and relax a little bit!” She was pretty much unconcerned about what I was going through which was exactly what I needed to hear. So I did manage to go back to sleep for about an hour and a half.

About 8:30 I felt this very odd sensation and thought I should go to the bathroom right away. I lost my mucus plug which I had been completely unaware of with Eli. I’m guessing that this caused my upsurge of hormone-related anxiety. I called Jeanne again and she said that was probably why I had felt so bad. She very generously said we could move the appointment we set for Monday afternoon to this afternoon. I’m glad she’s coming. It makes me feel better already.

The Daylight Global Savings Warming Conspiracy

From Ambitious Wench‘s blog, a letter to the editor published in my old home-state newspaper, The Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

You may have noticed that March of this year was particularly hot. As a matter of fact, I understand that it was the hottest March since the beginning of the last century. All of the trees were fully leafed out and legions of bugs and snakes were crawling around during a time in Arkansas when, on a normal year, we might see a snowflake or two. This should come as no surprise to any reasonable person. As you know, Daylight Saving Time started almost a month early this year. You would think that members of Congress would have considered the warming effect that an extra hour of daylight would have on our climate. Or did they ?

Perhaps this is another plot by a liberal Congress to make us believe that global warming is a real threat. Perhaps next time there should be serious studies performed before Congress passes laws with such far-reaching effects.

CONNIE M. MESKIMEN
Hot Springs

There’s a scan of the letter, and Ambitious Wench tracked its publication date as April 16. My favorite part is the headline from the scan: “Daylight exacerbates warning”.

(My, er, thanks to James Nicoll, on whose journal I saw it first)

Update: According to Missy, Connie Meskimen is indeed a bankruptcy lawyer who has practiced in Hot Springs and Little Rock, and who has a pretty good peer rating.

Baby Liza update (37 1/2 weeks)

I went to the doctor this morning and the baby? she is coming sooner rather than later. Everything looks good and the doctor says that when labor starts, she is ready for me to go. I would give you the details about my cervix but I’m guessing that you are probably not that interested. (If you do want to know, email me and I’ll tell you.) My BP is good, the baby’s HB is 150s, and I’ve gained 7 lbs total. Which means that when I come home from the hospital, I’ll probably weigh less than I did before I got pregnant.

There is indeed a God.

The grandmoms are all in panic mode because they think it’s too soon but I think I’m pretty ready at this point. As ready as I’m going to get, I guess.