Monday, June 12, 2006

Expand Your Vocab: From Spring to Summer or is it Fall?

In just about a week and a half, we will see the official first day of Summer 2006. However, in northwest Iowa, it seems summer has been in full swing for a while. The spring showers did not hold up long enough, and, for the first time in my memory we are experiencing water restrictions in our little community.

The lawns that were once green are now yellow as hay. Plants and flowers that are not hardy enough are wilting from the lack of water. Some trees are losing leaves. And it's only June! If anything like this happened before, it was usually in August when nature is starting to transition to autumn.

Today's vocab is about seasonal expressions.

Aestival: Of or belonging to the summer.

Of, relating to, or occurring in the spring.
Characteristic of or resembling spring.
Fresh and young; youthful.

August (emphasis on the last syllable):
Inspiring awe or admiration; majestic: the august presence of the monarch.
Venerable for reasons of age or high rank.

Breaking Seals

Last week (ironically, on Tuesday, June 6, 2006), I was tucking my four-year-old son into bed and after we had read a story and sang a couple of songs, I noticed that he looked a bit scared when I began crawling out of his bunk.

I sat back next to him and asked if he was scared. He nodded his head and said, "uh-um," which means yes. I asked why, and he wouldn't say. Since he had been watching a lot of the old Scooby Doo shows and the movie, Monsters, Inc., I asked him if he had a monster. He nodded, "uh-um." I then asked him about his monster:

"What color is your monster?"
"Blue." He said in his quiet, tired boy voice.
"Is he smooth and hard, or soft and furry?"
"Does he like to sing?"
"Uh-aeh." (No.)
"Is he a mean monster or is he nice?"

Then, he went on to talk more about his monster:
"He loves to give kisses."
"What else does he like to do?"
"Yeah, he likes to break 'em."
"He likes to break seals?"
"Yeah. P-chchchah." He said as he mimicked how the monster breaks seals.
"Really? He breaks seals?"
"Yup. P-chchchah."

My son, who was previously so tired that all I got were one word or grunt answers, was now describing what his monster likes to do, in such a matter of fact way, even though he was tired. It wasn't like he was really thinking hard to make the story up about the seals, but rather telling me what he had seen. The sound effect of breaking the seals is what really got me, because even though he was tired, he was so quietly animated about it.

I laid beside my son quietly for a while, trying to understand his "monster." Then, out of the blue, I asked him if he wanted to say a prayer, and he said, "uh-um." I don't normally pray with my kids as they fall asleep, but felt the need to do so that night. I don't remember the prayer I said, but he listened as he lay there, probably watching his monster. I then kissed him on the forehead, and said "I love you." He replied, "I love you, too." I pulled the covers up for him, and proceeded down the bunk ladder. He then quietly fell asleep.

That got me wondering. Where did he get the idea about seals, besides seals that swim in the sea? And breaking seals, of all things? We don't read Revelations stories to our kids, and the Bible stories they do hear are the watered down kid versions from hardboard books.

Then, I thought, who is his monster? It had been a while since I had read Revelations, so I was a bit concerned about the character of his monster. After reading Revelations, chapter five, I am relieved.

Revelations 5:1-10
Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, "Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?" But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. Then one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals."

Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits[or the sevenfold Spirit] of God sent out into all the earth. He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song:
"You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased men for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation.
You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth."

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Zurg-Zarq Is Dead!?

Well, President Bush has announced that our archenemy Al-Zarqawi is dead. This link (just right click and open in new window) shows a large, framed photo of Zarq, presumably posthumous, after a bomb attack. Ok, first of all, he's looking pretty good for dying from a bomb attack. Maybe this was a photo taken post humus, when the humus was just not agreeing with him that day.

Zarq. Zurg. Zurg... Sworn enemy of the Galactic Alliance. Archenemy of Buzz Lightyear. Hmmm... Maybe Zarq is recharging his battery. Again.

Chiaroscuro: Jews, Christians & Muslims

Chiaroscuro is an Italian word and an art term that basically means clearly obscure. It is the use of dark and light elements in a pictorial work of art that creates drama and mystery into the piece. It is the comparing of similar elements with the contrast of paradoxical elements.

Let me paint a picture for you with Jewish, Christian and Muslim religions today. They are all different and have some conflicting beliefs and rituals. Muslims pray to Allah. Christians worship God. Jews revere G-d. Muslims are led by the works of the Prophet Muhammad, who is scarcely acknowledged as a legitimate prophet by Christians and Jews. Christians are led by the works of the Son of God and Savior, Jesus, who is seen as just another prophet by the Muslims, and denied by the Jews as the messiah.

Jews are led by the Patriarch Abraham and the Prophet Moses, which actually are similar elements found in both the Christian and Muslim faiths. Thus, all three religions share a similar foundation. All three faiths hold firm to the concepts of peace, love, charity, and true justice.

As you can see, there is a sense of a beautiful chiaroscuro painting here with these three faiths. However, the dark, contrasting element in this painting is also a connection shared with the morally faithful within these three religions. It is the dark side of the faithful: those who claim to follow their religious beliefs, but their walk doesn't follow their talk. I'm not referring to the sins of the individuals in the faith, as individual sins can be repented and reconciled in the true faith.

The dark side of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim faiths have shepherds that lead the faithful away from the morals and intentions of their faith. They talk of peace, but their idea of peace is not the true peace of God. Their idea of love is not the true love of God. Their idea of charity and justice are not the true charity and justice of God.

Those unfortunate to fall under such leadership are led astray and coerced into doing acts that strike against the goodness of their faith and perverse their beliefs, all in the supposed name of God (Allah, G-d).

Muslims must deal with hirabahists.
Those that believe in the Third Jihad (hirabahists) claim they have a right to reclaim ALL formerly Muslim-ruled lands, even where Muslims now are a mi-nority. They claim a right to establish the sharia-governed Caliphate over all Muslims. They want Islamist rule to replace secular rule in the Middle East, across North and East Africa, Asia Minor, the Balkans, Southwest Asia, Central Asia, and Indonesia. But the believers of the Third Jihad also want a global Caliphate. That means they want to be the only ones that can proselytize where Muslims are a minority. It is impossible to compromise with the hirabahists be-cause they have unlimited goals. To us their goals might seem unreasonable and unlikely to succeed. Yet they, like Hitler, can do grave harm before their movement's ultimate defeat.

Jews have to contend with Zionists.
One might suppose that this is simply an Israeli tribute to piety--far from it. The subsidies and exemptions enjoyed by orthodox Jews are part of a compromise that reconciles them to cooperation with the Zionists, a movement they generally abhor: support for their religious life and exemption from defending Israel are the price the orthodox exact for limited cooperation with an enterprize they reject.

And true Christians have to cross swords with fundamentalist evangelicals.
"Pastor Ted,...talks to President George W. Bush or his advisers every Monday..." "...the battle boils down to evangelicals versus Islam. “My fear,” he says, “is that my children will grow up in an Islamic state.” And that is why he believes spiritual war requires a virile, worldly counterpart. “I teach a strong ideology of the use of power,” he says, “of military might, as a public service.” He is for preemptive war, because he believes the Bible’s exhortations against sin set for us a preemptive paradigm, and he is for ferocious war, because “the Bible’s bloody. There’s a lot about blood.”
"These Christian fundametalists are actively and intentionally taking advantage of the colonial usurpation of power by the American and Coalition forces to culturally and religiously invade the Iraqi society. ... It is taking advantage of their deprivations and using that physical and psychological dependence on Christian goodwill to advance the more important agenda: the conversion of Muslims to Christianity. It's not about learning and collaborating with the Iraqis on these social matters, it's about "teaching" and "civilizing" them with Christianity."

These are groups that seem to deny the basic truths of their own religious beliefs, and in its place they take matters into their own hands, as if God cannot accomplish His kingdom without His people breaking their own faith's morals and values. This is clearly obscure.

Sure, there's a contrast there, but we can't underestimate nor undermine the power of God, even in these circumstances. However you determine to name the creator and master of our universe and beyond, He is the painter and the artist. He can take the canvas we've provided and paint a beautiful, moving and spiritual picture out of our chaos. In any painting, the element that always stands out is the light, the light out of the darkness, and that light in God's painting is the true essence of our faith.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Expand Your Vocab: 6/6/06

I am beginning some theme days here at Indigo Lake, with the first being "Expand Your Vocab." My hope is that we will find new words and word combinations to use in our daily discussions, that will not only clarify our thoughts, but make us sound like we know more than we really do.

Today’s words are intrinsically linked by a common similitude: 6/6/6

We’ll start at the beginning of becoming someone marked, with a word you may have heard and used many times:

Ignoramus: An ignorant person.

A nice adjective for an ignoramus is:

Lacking purpose or vitality; feeble or ineffective.
Careless and irresponsible.

I had a neighbor who loved to use this word to describe careless youth to their faces, and they thought they were cool to be called “feckless.” What feckless ignoramuses. Feckless ignoramus. Flows nicely from the tongue, doesn’t it?!

Moving up the scale from an ignoramus, we find this word:

An evildoer; a villain.
An infidel; a heretic.

What’s a good adjective for a miscreant? Oh, how about this:

Expressing contemptuous reproach; scornful or abusive: opprobrious epithets.
Bringing disgrace; shameful or infamous: opprobrious conduct.

An opprobrious miscreant. A nice way to tell someone they are the devil incarnate, isn’t it?!
So, put them all together and what do we get? A feckless ignoramus that matures into an opprobrious miscreant.

And if you happen to be chatting about politics and governments and can’t find a nice word for a leader with the mark of the beast, here’s a word to use:

Quisling: A traitor who serves as the puppet of the enemy occupying his or her country.