". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving Find

Don't say I never told you anything useful, okay?

Here's my find of the year: Felix Lingonberries. I discovered them at Jewel while shopping for Thanksgiving dinner. In keeping with our minimal-corn-syrup policy (I can't say no-corn-syrup policy because I haven't succeeded in cutting it out entirely--we are still buying corn-syrup based catsup--but we no longer get it in our pancake syrup, peanut butter, bread, and a host of other things) I went looking for an alternative to the usual canned cranberry sauce (which because I read the label this year I discovered was full of corn syrup). I couldn't find any cranberries or cranberry sauce on the shelf that didn't have it, and I didn't have time to check other retailers, such as Trader Joe's or Whole Foods, that might have more options. And please, don't ask "why didn't you make your own?" I would wager $100 that at least one of my readers, but probably more, does just that. But I am a cook of modest talents, and again, there wasn't time to go to another store, much less for me to find a recipe and successfully execute it.

But then . . . then I happened upon this beautiful sight:


At $4.99 a bit more costly than the $2 can of Ocean Spray, but just look at the ingredients: wild lingonberries, sugar, and pectin. Period.


Into my cart it went. The day after Thanksgiving the entire jar was gone. I bought another one today (we still have lots of turkey and dressing in the refrigerator). This stuff is amazing! Much better than any cranberry sauce I have ever had. And I know, Melody--I didn't like the lingonberries in the Ikea cafe--but that didn't even begin to compare with this taste experience. The Ikea lingonberries had a bitterness I didn't care for; these were delectably sweet.


Here's a link with everything you might want to know about Felix lingonberries.

A Sunday Smile for the Moms Out There

Last year around this time an Ebay listing took the cyberworld by storm. It was an ad offering a package of Pokemon cards for auction. Sounds like pretty dull stuff, huh? What was noteworthy was the item description, a hilarious narrative about why the mom in question was selling the Pokemon cards and how they had come into her possession in the first place (sneaked into her shopping cart at the grocery store by one of her six children).

The Pokemon cards eventually sold for over $100. The item listing is history, but that mom (Dawn Meehan) is now something of a celebrity, with an extremely popular blog and a book deal, no less. And luckily, that famous Ebay listing has been preserved for continued reading on her blog. If you missed it the first time around, or if you just want a rerun, click here and treat yourself to a laugh.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Christmas Music

There is a radio station in my town that starts playing Christmas music during Thanksgiving week. I think it's a great idea. I love Christmas music, and there is so very much of it that is wonderful that if I limited my listening to the twelve days of Christmas I wouldn't get my fill! So I often find myself turning to this radio station when I am driving in the car, hoping for something Christmas-y to listen to.

I am frequently disappointed, not because I don't find a Christmas song playing, but because the song that I do find is to me not really a Christmas song. Instead, it's some pop ditty with a Christmas theme. So I continue my button-pushing, looking for something I want to hear.

It's not that I expect the pop station in town to play all sacred music. I like fun, secular Christmas tunes, too, things like "Winter Wonderland" and "Sleigh Ride." But so much of what gets played is not even in that category. Instead, it's Madonna singing "Santa Baby" or Whitney Houston singing about "My Grown-Up Christmas Wish." In my opinion these are not Christmas songs.

I also do not care to hear pop stylists singing Christmas hymns. "O Come All Ye Faithful" is not meant to be vocally interpreted but sung full-out by a congregation and/or choir, if possible with organ, brass and descant. The solo versions too often come across as being about the singer--"look at me, don't I sing this song beautifully?"--than about the adoration of the newborn king.

Judging from the fact that I often turn to the "Christmas" station to hear the same song that they played last hour playing yet again, it seems they could expand their playlist a bit. But I'm not holding my breath.

My husband is the lucky one. He has XM radio, which at this time of year expands its lineup to include several differently-themed Christmas stations, including one that plays only classical/sacred selections. That station has the right idea, except for the fact that on December 26 it will go off the air, since of course, Christmas is over.

Sigh.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Well, Most of the Time

GREEN

You are a very calm and contemplative person. Others are drawn to your peaceful, nurturing nature.

Find out your color at QuizMeme.com!



Why?

Just . . . why?

Planned Parenthood Christmas gift certificates

I Want My Caffeine

Thanks to Zoe's Dad Greg for making me laugh out loud this morning. If you are a coffee drinker, you have to watch this. I am not a frequent moviegoer so I had never seen the clip before. It's hilarious.

Thank you, Greg and Jen, for sharing Zoe's story with the world and for allowing us to laugh and cry, pray and praise, with you. It is a privilege.

Zoe

I have been following the blog of a friend's brother for some time now. His baby--Zoe--was born 8 months ago with Trisomy 18. She has already lived far longer than anyone would have expected. Yesterday--on her first Thanksgiving--Zoe had heart surgery. Her parents did not know, as they have not known throughout Zoe's miraculous little life, whether she would survive to bless them with another day of her life here on earth.

She did.

You can follow Zoe's amazing story here. Her family's faith in God and their trust in His perfect will are an inspiration. Please keep them all in your prayers.

4:00 A.M.?

Did anyone out there really go shopping at 4:00 a.m. today? That's what time a lot of the stores around here opened.

For the record, I will NOT be shopping today.

But I will be having pie for breakfast. :-)

Happy Day-After-Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

More Thankfulness

A couple of Thanksgiving Day links. If you only have time for one, skip the first and don't miss the second.

Ten Reasons for Conservatives to be Thankful - by Jennifer Rubin

Steadfast Faith - by Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow

Back to the kitchen!

Thank You, Governor Palin

I just saw this ad on Fox News. It's from the Our Country Deserves Better PAC. I say amen.




Thankful . . .

. . . for a husband who takes to heart his calling to be the spiritual head of our household.

. . . for God-fearing, content, and healthy children.


. . . that my mother and both of my husband's parents are still with us.


. . . for a family that, although far-flung and sometimes out of touch, comes together at crucial times.


. . . for parents who stayed together to the end, even when it wasn't easy to do so.



. . . for friends far and near, old and new, who stay in touch and show they care.


. . . for the internet, which allows people with shared values and beliefs to build bonds that they would otherwise not have.


. . . for the freedom and ability to homeschool my children.

. . . for material blessings far beyond what the majority of people in the world can even begin to imagine.


. . . for the Church and all who faithfully serve Her.



. . . for a God who creates things of beauty to share with his children.


. . . for Word and Sacrament.


. . . for life temporal and eternal.


. . . for forgiveness.


Blessed Thanksgiving, everyone.

"The eyes of all wait upon Thee, O Lord, and Thou givest them their meat in due season. Thou openest Thy Hand and satisfiest the desire of every living thing."--Prayer before meals, Luther's Small Catechism

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Facebook

Yesterday I linked to an article that discussed how sites like Facebook and Twitter are starting to encroach on some of the web communication that used to be mostly limited to blogs. Seems that a lot of people are finding them to be better forums for sharing links, photos, brief comments and late-breaking personal life updates. From my limited experience with some of these sites, I can see the logic. Blogs seem to call for a little more breadth and depth than the one-sentence news flashes (e. g., "Cheryl is getting ready to wash her car") that proliferate on Facebook and Twitter.

But what I don't quite get is some of the virtual aspects of these sites. I joined Facebook a few months ago, not because I wanted another account to manage, but because I wanted to be able to visit the home page of an old college roommate (she doesn't have a blog!). Little by little, I have discovered a number of other people I know who also have Facebook accounts and with whom I have become Facebook "friends" (meaning I can view their profiles and vice versa). I have enjoyed this new network, especially the connections I have made with a few people I wasn't otherwise in contact with. But I have been a little slow to figure out how to "play" on Facebook the way a lot of people do (with virtual games, presents, and contests). When I have received some of these invitations I have scratched my head, wondering what I am supposed to do. Now that I am finally starting to figure them out and respond (by accepting and/or reciprocating), I'm thinking that I don't have time for this, as fun as it might be! Not only that, although I wouldn't describe myself as a "slow" blogger (I am too eclectic in my subjects and inconsistent in my style), I do prefer the greater depth afforded by a blog. Visiting someone else's blog, and having him or her visit mine, is like sitting down together for a cup of coffee, while messaging on Facebook is akin to waving at each other from passing cars. When I read a personal blog, I feel like I've heard that person's voice and spent a little time in his or her world, whereas on Facebook it's more like we ran into each other at the grocery store, surrounded by a bunch of other people.

Right now, in addition to this blog, my 5-year-old's mini-blog on Tumblr (where I journal about things that he says), and my Facebook account, I also have a Wittenberg Trail account (social networking for Lutherans). And I am trying (hopelessly) to follow about 50 other blogs (some of which post only rarely or intermittently). While I try to write here almost daily, I often go a week or more without logging into Facebook, and it has been at least a month since I have been on Wittenberg Trail. I just can't keep up with it all (not to mention my email) while trying to be a good wife and mother (something I fail at, in ways big and small, every day). So for me the priorities are my personal email, my own blogs, and certain never-to-be-missed others. Sometimes there isn't even time for all of those. Anything more is definitely dessert.

This is all a rather long-winded way (slow blogging, yay!) of saying that if you are one of those dear souls on Facebook who has recently sent me a snowman, thrown a snowball at me, given me a Christmas present, invited me to join a group or take a quiz, or nominated me for an award, please don't be offended if I didn't respond. It may be that I am simply too dense to know what I am supposed to do. Or maybe I am just cooking supper, and the fun will have to wait.

Seven Random Weird Facts About Me

Michelle tagged me for this one. I tried to think of things that most regular readers of this blog would not already know (of course my mom and husband know it all). What that has resulted in is a pretty boring set of facts. I've already told you all the interesting stuff! So here goes nothing. Consider yourself duly warned.

1. I used to have perfect pitch (in music, this is the ability to identify a note by letter name simply by hearing it played or sung). My elementary music teacher discovered it one day, and I remember her being amazed. I didn't understand what the big deal was at the time, since to my ear an "A" was an "A" and a "B" was a "B" and the sound was completely different. But now I do, because I am losing my perfect pitch. More often than not, I am about a half step off. So I hear an A but think it's an A-flat or A-sharp. I guess by the time I'm 80 (thinking positively!) I'll be hearing A's and thinking they're E's. The decay of the flesh is no fun.

2. I like grammar. A lot. I took structural and transformational grammar in college and actually thought it was fun. You can close your mouths now.

3. I have a recurring dream in which I find myself back in school (but I'm not of the age or situation in life that it makes sense for me to be there). Typically in the dream I am unable to find and/or open my locker (I can't remember the combination). Then I am late to class, usually math, and I realize that not only have I not done my homework but I have missed weeks of instruction and have no clue what is going on. (All you amateur psychoanalysts feel free to try your hand at this one.)

4. Until I was about 12 years old my hair was so long I could sit on it.

5. When I was in college I came down with what appeared to be a case of pink eye. When it didn't respond to standard pink eye treatment, the doctor sent me to an ophthalmalogist, who diagnosed me with iritis, an inflammation of the iris that is systemic in nature, not caused by infection. My iritis became chronic and has recurred periodically over the years. It must be treated with steroid drops, which with long use can cause cataracts. I now have tiny cataracts in both of my eyes. My last recurrence of iritis was about 5 years ago.

6. When I was little I had a severe open bite. None of my teeth touched except the back four molars. As you can imagine, biting or chewing anything was a challenge. The orthodontist told my parents that the root of the problem was my malformed jawbone and recommended surgery (meaning they would break and reset my jaw). My parents declined the surgery. After four years of braces I had a pretty decent smile, and because I still wear my 25-year-old retainer (I never lost or broke it!) my teeth are still aligned. But my jaw is moving, and the open bite is slowly returning. I saw an orthodonist a few years ago who said the same thing my first one did--the only permanent fix would be surgery on my jaw. I don't want to do that, so I may be getting braces again when I'm about 50--not for vanity as much as for chewing!


7. I am the youngest of eleven in a blended family, but for much of my growing up I felt like an only child. My father was a widower with four children, and my mother was divorced with six. They married and had me. But there is about a 25-year span between me and my oldest sibling, and the one closest in age to me is nevertheless seven years older. I wish I could say we are all close, but we aren't.


I'm going to tag a few people that will no doubt have much more fascinating random facts than I can muster! Elephant's Child, Caitlin, Melody, Dan, Pastor Weedon, Susan, Susan, Jane, Lora and Hannah, go to it! (There are more I'd like to tag, but I think I've already exceeded the prescribed number, and besides, I'm tired of creating links. So if you want to play, don't wait to be tagged . . . just play!)



Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What is a Boy?

This made me laugh out loud.


HT: Concordian Sisters


Slow Blogging

Have you heard of it? . . . slow blogging, that is? Some say it's where the blogosphere is headed. According to this article , brief blog posts that relate the author's most recent goings and doings, share his or her thoughts of the moment, post photos or link to articles of interest are becoming old hat as those varieties of information are increasingly being shared via news feeds on Twitter and Flickr and Facebook. Statistics apparently show that blog posting is declining overall, while the posts that are being written are getting longer, more reflective, and more in-depth. Blogs are also more and more focused on specialized subject areas instead of being a potpourri of whatever the author feels like blogging about. The article compares the "slow blogging" movement to that of "slow food" in that proponents of both laud the value of taking time to both prepare and then to relish and leisurely digest the meal at hand, whether it consists of words or of food.

I was a little late to my discovery of the blogosphere, and later still to blogging myself. So am I apparently late to this latest blogging trend. And considering that I have major mommy-and-middle-age-induced ADD as well as only scattered snippets of time in which to put down the disorganized thoughts I do manage to have, I don't see that changing. So for the time being, you can anticipate that your visits to the messy kitchen that is A Round Unvarnish'd Tale will continue to yield an unpredictable soup of whatever "ingredients" happen to be languishing at the moment in the dark pantry that is my so-called mind.

More Screwtape Quotes

These are just so good! I have to share them. (Remember that the words are those of Screwtape, an experienced devil giving advice to his inexperienced nephew Wormwood. The "patient" is a soul, and the "Enemy" is the one true God.)

On prayer:
"The best thing, where it is possible, is to keep the patient from the serious intention of praying altogether. When the patient is an adult recently reconverted to the Enemy's party, like your man, this is best done by encouraging him to remember, or to think he remembers, the parrot-like nature of his prayers in childhood. In reaction against that, he may be persuaded to aim at something entirely spontaneous, inward, informal, and unregularised; and what this will actually mean to a beginner will be an effort to produce in himself a vaguely devotional mood in which real concentration of will and intelligence have no part. . . . Whenever they are attending to the Enemy Himself we are defeated, but there are ways of preventing them from doing so. The simplest is to turn their gaze away from Him towards themselves. Keep them watching their own minds and trying to produce feelings there by the action of their own wills. When they meant to ask Him for charity, let them, instead, start trying to manufacture charitable feelings for themselves and not notice that this is what they are doing. When they meant to pray for courage, let them really be trying to feel brave. When they say they are praying for forgiveness, let them be trying to feel forgiven. Teach them to estimate the value of each prayer by their success in producing the desired feeling . . . ." (The Screwtape Letters, Chapter 4)

On hatred:
"Do what you will, there is going to be some benevolence, as well as some malice, in your patient's soul. The great thing is to direct the malice to his immediate neighbours whom he meets every day and to thrust his benevolence out to the remote circumference, to people he does not know. The malice thus becomes wholly real and the benevolence largely imaginary. There is no good at all in inflaming his hatred of Germans if, at the same time, a pernicious habit of charity is growing up between him and his mother, his employer, and the man he meets in the train." (Chapter 6)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Welcome Home, Friend

Take a minute to watch this video of an American soldier being welcomed home from Iraq by his two dogs. It will make you smile.

HT: The Corner

What They Said

Two links that say what I am feeling and thinking these days:

Ten Random, Politically Incorrect Thoughts - Victor Davis Hanson

Excerpt:

10. The K-12 public education system is essentially wrecked. No longer can any professor expect an incoming college freshman to know what Okinawa, John Quincy Adams, Shiloh, the Parthenon, the Reformation, John Locke, the Second Amendment, or the Pythagorean Theorem is. An entire American culture, the West itself, its ideas and experiences, have simply vanished on the altar of therapy. This upcoming generation knows instead not to judge anyone by absolute standards (but not why so); to remember to say that its own Western culture is no different from, or indeed far worse than, the alternatives; that race, class, and gender are, well, important in some vague sense; that global warming is manmade and very soon will kill us all; that we must have hope and change of some undefined sort; that AIDs is no more a homosexual- than a heterosexual-prone disease; and that the following things and people for some reason must be bad, or at least must in public company be said to be bad (in no particular order): Wal-Mart, cowboys, the Vietnam War, oil companies, coal plants, nuclear power, George Bush, chemicals, leather, guns, states like Utah and Kansas, Sarah Palin, vans and SUVs.

Clinging to My Guns, Salt, and Light Bulbs - Pam Meister

Excerpt:

It’s apparent that many people lack basic nutrition skills. Yet again, is it government’s duty to remedy the problem by placing restrictions on what we eat? I don’t claim to have the answer to the growing problem of morbidly obese people, but the idea of limiting personal freedom in exchange for the government taking care of yet another problem is not one I care to contemplate. After all, Congress decided it knew what it was doing when it came to handling the mortgage industry — and look where that got us.




The Roches

A commenter on my last post reminded me of a musical group that I had not thought of for a while. I have not followed the Roches (pronounced like the insect) throughout their career, but we do have a CD of theirs from a while back. If you are a mom, or you have a mom, or you have someone in your life who is like a mom, I think you will love this song as I do. I can't embed the video, so you will have to follow the link to listen. It was a tad slow loading on my computer. If the video gets stuck during play, you may want to hit the pause button (looks like quotation marks) and wait a minute or so to give the entire video time to load. To restart play, hit the pause button again.

I Love My Mom

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Hallelujah

A few moments of video taken at choir practice this past Thursday. The choir is rehearsing "Hallelujah" from William Walker's Southern Harmony. To aid the choir in hearing one another, Phil had them get in a circle as he stood in the middle. He is leading the piece more like a songleader than a conductor, as this is more in keeping with how the piece would have been performed historically and also elicits the proper vocal style from the singers.

Enjoy. That's what I was doing Thursday night as I stood by the piano and was suddenly inspired to pull out my cell phone and take this video. And if you like this preview, you can hear the entire piece (and some other good stuff) on Bethany's podcast next week.


video

Friday, November 21, 2008

New Readaloud

One of the things we have always done in our homeschool is read out loud together. Even when other things fall by the wayside, if we have prayed and read together I feel like the day has not been a loss.

This past year, though, it has been harder to maintain a regular readaloud schedule. My two oldest children are branching out from the home more and more, pursuing individual interests, activities, and studies, and that makes it difficult to find time to read together. With our trip to Grenada and various other schedule demands, we went several months without doing so at all.

But I am not ready to give up on readalouds. Not yet, anyway. The time is simply too wonderful and too well spent. So yesterday we started a new book. Often our readaloud relates to whatever historical period we are studying at the time. Sometimes it's chosen just because it's a great story. But this time I decided to have us read something a little different: The Screwtape Letters, by C. S. Lewis. Have you ever read it? It has been about 10-15 years since I did. Wow--already in the first few chapters, I am reminded of why the book made such an impression on me back then. If you have never read it, add it to your to-do list now.

In the book, a demon named Screwtape writes a series of letters to his nephew, another demon named Wormwood, giving advice on how to win souls for the Devil. Here are a few excerpts from the opening chapters:

"Your man has been accustomed, ever since he was a boy, to have a dozen incompatible philosophies dancing about together inside his head. He doesn't think of doctrines as primarily 'true' or 'false', but as 'academic' or 'practical', 'outworn' or 'contemporary', 'conventional' or 'ruthless'. Jargon, not argument, is your best ally in keeping him from the Church." (Chapter 1)

"One of our great allies at present is the Church itself. Do not misunderstand me. I do not mean the Church as we see her spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity . . . . [but] the half-finished, sham Gothic erection on the new building estate. . . . When he gets to his pew and looks round him he sees just that selection of his neighbours whom he has hitherto avoided. You want to lean pretty heavily on those neighbours. Make his mind flit to and fro between an expression like 'the body of Christ' and the actual faces in the next pew." (Chapter 2)

"Keep out of his mind the question 'If I, being what I am, can consider that I am in some sense a Christian, why should the different vices of those people in the next pew prove that their religion is mere hypocrisy and convention?' You may ask whether it is possible to keep such an obvious thought from occurring even to a human mind. It is, Wormwood, it is! . . . At bottom, he still believes he has run up a very favourable credit-balance in the Enemy's [God's] ledge by allowing himself to be converted . . . ." (Chapter 2)

"Keep his mind on the inner life. He thinks his conversion is something inside him and his attention is therefore chiefly turned at present to the states of his own mind . . . . Encourage this. Keep his mind off the most elementary duties by directing it to the most advanced and spiritual ones. Aggravate that most useful human characteristic, the horror and neglect of the obvious. You must bring him to a condition in which he can practise self-examination for an hour without discovering any of those facts aobut hiself which are perfectly clear to anyone who has ever lived in the same house with him or worked in the same office."



Good stuff, huh? In just a few paragraphs, Lewis takes on postmodernism, slams works righteousness and decision theology, and highlights the doctrine of vocation, the sinner's need for repentance, the eternal nature of the Church, and the Lord's free grace. My children, ages 13 & 16, were begging for just "one more chapter." Don't worry, dears, we have 28 more to look forward to!




Changing Perspectives

The candidacy of Barack Obama made me look at Hillary Clinton (and her husband) in a whole new light. I would have never thought someone could make me like and long for the Clintons, but Obama did just that. During the campaign, I was torn between rooting for Hillary to win the Democratic nomination (because I think she would have made a much better president than him) and rooting for Obama (because I didn't think he could win, whereas I thought Hillary could).

Obviously, I was wrong on that last point. We are now facing an Obama administration, and I am looking back with a degree of fondness on Clinton's America and feeling sick to my stomach about what may lie ahead. But the recent talk about Mrs. Clinton possibly serving as Obama's Secretary of State gives me some hope that maybe he is not as far gone as I feared. As Jonah Goldberg points out, it would be a head scratcher, since foreign policy was one of the areas in which Obama and Clinton had the greatest differences. But it has the radical leftists up in arms, and that is a good sign, no?

Thankfulness

Evan has been learning about Thanksgiving in preschool. Yesterday the children were instructed to draw on a piece of paper what they are thankful for; then the teacher wrote the words to accompany the drawings.


Here's what my 5-year-old is thankful for:

Mom

Swords

Thunder

Lightning

Light sabres

Swords (I didn't make a mistake; they're on the list twice)


Please note that "Mom" is number one on the list! :-) And by the way, in the picture he drew of me, I am holding a light sabre that is about three times my size.

Go, Mom!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

You Will Be My Friend, Or Else!

I was the parent helper at preschool yesterday. What that meant for Evan (my 5-year-old) was that he got to enjoy certain privileges: serving as line-leader, holding the pointer during calendar time, carrying the offering to chapel, ringing the bell for clean-up, and helping set out the snack. When it came to that last item, I think I may have learned something about my child today. You see, for most of the year we have been hearing about two other little boys in the class who Evan says are not his friends. These two, whom I will call Andy and Eddie (not their real names), are apparently bosom buddies, very close pals not only in preschool but out, and their closeness manifests itself in their wanting to play together and sit together to the apparent exclusion of the other children.

Now please understand: I see nothing wrong with this. Each of them is the other's security, and that is just fine. But Evan doesn't like it one bit. He wants to be friends with everyone, and he doesn't understand that their dependence on one another is not a personal rejection of him.

Well, today when it came time to prepare the snack, Evan made a point of asking me if he could set out the placemats (each student has one with his or her own name, and when the students come to the table they are to find their placemat and sit at that spot). I watched as he intentionally picked out Andy and Eddie's placemats, separating them at the table and putting his own placemat between theirs. When Andy and Eddie came to the table, he pointed out where they were to sit and plopped himself down between them. I guarantee that this was no accident: he thought his plan through ahead of time and then proceeded to execute it. Pretty smooth, huh?

I don't think I'm going to have to worry about this kid making a way for himself in the world. What do you think--do we have a future politician on our hands? Or maybe a campaign manager or (heaven forbid) a community organizer?

By the way, Andy and Eddie got their revenge. Midway through snack, each of them started calling Evan by the other one's name! You can imagine how that went over!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

So Who's the Demented One?

Recently the ladies of The View were discussing the choice faced by the Obamas of where to send their daughters to school. In the course of the discussion, Joy Behar proposed that they be educated in the White House rather than sent to either a public or private school. Elizabeth Hasselbeck responded by acknowledging that more and more people today are choosing homeschooling (or something to that effect), to which Behar said that no, that's not what she meant and that those people (homeschoolers) are "demented."

So, let me get this straight, Joy. Mr. Obama should be able to keep his children home, but not me. He would be smart for wanting to do so, but I am demented. It's all right for him to tailor his childen's education to their particular situation and individual needs, but it's crazy for me to desire the same thing.

What boggles my mind is that Joy Behar thinks parents should be able to choose whether to let their children live but not how to educate them once they have made it to this world. Sorry, Joy, but I think you're the one who's not thinking clearly.

(The discussion starts around 5 minutes, 45 seconds into the video; the homeschooling comment is around the 7 minute mark. HT: Principled Discovery.)


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Separate But Still Not Equal

Plans are underway in the city of Chicago for the opening of a new high school, to be named Social Justice Solidarity High School, in 2010. The school was originally conceived as a gay and lesbian only campus, but the intent now is to target "disenfranchised" students of all kinds who are feeling isolated or unfairly treated. According to the school's mission statement, "While the school will be open to all students, its special mission will be to provide a haven where students can feel safe and valued for who they are."

Two questions:

1) What does it say about the environment in Chicago's other schools that there is a need to create a new institution for the purpose of making students feel "safe and valued for who they are"? And what about the students who don't get to attend Social Justice Solidarity High School? Will they just have to get used to feeling endangered and belittled?

2) Do the people behind this enterprise really think that by throwing up a new building and giving it a new name they can make students be nice to each other?

Here's a suggestion for Mayor Daley and the Chicago Board of Education: before you put any more time and money into this effort, take a few hours to read George Orwell's Animal Farm. And remember that no matter how much you try to make everyone equal, some will always be more equal than others.

Ditto

Preparing to be governed by The One:

My Post-Election Resolutions for Unity - by Kyle-Ann Shiver

$1.89 . . .

. . . is how much I paid for regular unleaded yesterday in Indiana. Wow--you Hoosiers have it nice! Here in Chicagoland, we're still around $2.19. (But I'm not complaining!)

My Biggest Fan




(Photography & effects courtesy of Caitlin.)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Roller Coaster Chess

So, Trevor started out the tournament with an uphill match against a 2600+ rated grandmaster. Then yesterday he was able to coast a bit, playing first an "A" player (rating of 1800-2000) and then a "B" player (1600-1800) and winning both rounds (Trevor, with a rating between 2000-2200, is an "Expert").

Well, guess what? This morning looks to be another long, slow ascent against a grandmaster (a slightly lower-rated one this time around). Poor kid--good thing he has a strong, young heart!

Actually, Trevor much prefers the tougher opponents. The risk of losing is greater, of course, but the playing experience is much more valuable. And a loss to someone so highly rated does not have as negative an effect on one's own rating as losing to someone who is lower-rated (does that make sense?). Still, the extreme swings can't be easy. They are also a little surprising, since Trevor is playing in the top rating class for this tournament. Lower-rated players have the option of competing in a lower rating class, but some of them prefer to play "up"--thus getting to play people like Trevor!

Two grandmasters in one tournament. And who knows . . . maybe a draw or even a win against one of them?

I'll let you know!

Catechism Widget

Hat tip to the Concordian Sisters* for pointing me to the Luther's Small Catechism widget that is now ensconced in my sidebar (right above "Music, Worship & Liturgy"). What a great find! I have set mine to change weekly rather than daily because I intend to use it for my own personal catechism memory work. Having been confirmed Roman Catholic, not Lutheran, I did not have the joy that my children now have of being required to memorize the catechism (and I mean that sincerely, not ironically). In our daily devotions, my husband (as his alter ego, "Catechism Bob") leads us in catechism study and memory, but my aging, overstuffed brain is constantly throwing up roadblocks to success. Maybe this little widget will help me in my quest to keep up with my children. Want to join me on the journey?

*If you've never checked out these ladies, you're in for a treat. I would give anything to write like them. They put words together better than just about anyone out there.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Creation Museum

As mentioned in an earlier post, we are currently at Kings Island Resort and Conference Center (I think it should be King's Island or Kings' Island, but they don't use an apostrophe) in Mason, Ohio, where my oldest son is competing in a chess tournament (he won his morning match, by the way). We have been coming here for 4-5 years now. It's not too long of a drive, the accommodations are very nice and reasonably priced thanks to the negotiated chess rate, and Trevor likes the playing schedule and time control.

On our trip here last year we decided to take advantage of our proximity to Kentucky and visit the Answers in Genesis Creation Museum. Ever since then I have been intending to write a blog post about our visit, but something else always seemed to take precedence. I guess one year late is better than never!

The Creation Museum is really not what most of us think of when we think of museums. It doesn't house a lot of old stuff. Instead, it is a huge, multi-roomed exhibit dedicated to teaching the Biblical truth of creation. It's a walk through the creation week as well as an effort to provide attendees with the knowledge needed to defend Biblical creation and discredit the flawed theory of evolution. There is, for example, one room devoted entirely to the Scopes trial. Other questions addressed are things like "What happened to the dinosaurs?" and "How did all those people and animals fit on the ark?" One of the most impressive parts of our tour was a powerful planetarium-style movie about the the heavenly bodies and earth's place among them. My daughter said she left the presentation feeling "awestruck."

The museum was still undergoing construction when we visited. These are one-year-old pictures, so they may not accurately reflect the current state of things.

Here's a far shot of the museum from across the body of water that is situated on its beautifully landscaped grounds. A pleasant walking trail winds its way through those grounds.



Some shots of the dinosaur exhibit, including one model that emphasizes the co-existence of humans and dinosaurs.


The unifying theme of the museum, from Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis, is the "7 C's of Creation."



The Garden of Eden display.

Solomon, Moses, and David.


Marty (Luther) and me.


Learning about the cosmos.
Deep thoughts!
More deep thoughts!
Not-so-deep (but definitely fun) thoughts!

My, how they've grown in only a year!

If you find yourself in the Cincinnati area, I would strongly recommend an educational side trip to this peaceful, thought-provoking and soul-feeding haven in northern, rural Kentucky. I think it would be especially appropriate for junior-high or high school age students on a church or school field trip. It brings the creation/evolution debate to life in a hands-on way that may resonate with young people a lot more than simply reading about it in a book.





S. O. S.

Waltzing on the Titanic - by Larrey Anderson

Please wake up, America. Enough said.

How Did I Miss This?

Pastor Stephen Starke has a blog! If you already knew and didn't tell me, shame on you! He is not only one of my favorite contemporary hymn writers, but one of my favorite hymnists, period. Check it out!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Down to the Wire

It is almost 1:00 a.m. Ohio time. Trevor's game finished about 15 minutes ago, with 35 seconds left on his clock and about 25 minutes left on GM Shabalov's. It was one of the last three games to wrap up tonight.

Trevor resigned. He said Shabalov was about to "queen" a pawn and he--Trevor--would have been at an extreme disadvantage, with very little time remaining on his clock. The players shook hands and proceeded to do a little post-game analysis before everyone headed to bed.

So to be clear: tonight my son, age 16, rating 2164, started 30 minutes down on time against Alexander Shabalov, GM, rating 2632. After 5-1/2 hours of play, Trevor was down 25 minutes on time after holding his own in material and position for longer than almost anyone would have expected. Trevor was not disappointed in the outcome. Well, not much. :-) This was his first time to be paired with a Grandmaster in tournament play--an honor in itself, not to mention a singular learning experience. And to have performed so well and provided his opponent such a high level of play is something he can feel very good about. Mr. Shabalov did not have this win handed to him; he earned it.

Trevor, you rock--as Dad would say--"crazy style." Now if only your mother could acquire even the tiniest sense of direction . . .

I'm Sorry, Honey

So, guess who went the wrong way on the Indianapolis Loop today, significantly extending our travel time and getting us caught in rush hour traffic?

As a result, guess who was late for his 7:00 chess game tonight against--of all people--Alexander Shabalov? (To my chess-savvy readers: yes, THAT Alexander Shabalov. To my non-chess readers, click here to discover the significance of this pairing.)

Now, Trevor is a very, very good chess player, only about 30 points shy of being a master. But Shabalov is a grandmaster and winner of the 2007 U. S. Championship. And my son is playing him right now. Being late to this game meant that he started out with a time disadvantage in a match in which he needs every advantage he can get. GM Shabalov has at least 400 rating points on Trevor. But Trevor has now been playing him for over three hours and is still hanging in there. I know he will give it everything he has.

I'll let you know how things turn out. Until then . . .

GO, TREVOR!

On the Road

When I first started blogging, I tried to write a post every three or four days. Eventually that shrank to every two days, and now I don't like it if a day goes by without a post. It's not that I feel I owe my readers anything--I know you all will survive just fine without my ponderings!--but blogging has become a great outlet for me, a haven from the craziness of daily life. I think a big part of my enjoyment of it is the sense of order and completion it gives me: I write a post. It makes sense (I hope). I post it. It's done. Life, on the other hand, is often messy and illogical, full of unfinished tasks and beyond my control.

This is all to say that I have been too busy to blog (about anything meaningful, anyway) yesterday and today, and I DON'T LIKE IT! On the other hand, my silence is for a very good reason. Today we'll be driving to King's Island in Mason, Ohio, so Trevor can compete in a chess tournament. This has become an annual trip for us, and I have to say I am looking forward to a mid-November break. I have packed up all the books and magazines I haven't been able to read since returning from Grenada and am hoping to get caught up just a bit.

Oh, and I might just have a little time for blogging, too.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Election Analysis from a Thoughtful Liberal

This, from Camille Paglia, is definitely worth your time. She has much higher hopes for an Obama presidency than I can muster. But she is also able to look past the veneer and understand why so many are worried. And she refuses to buy into the standard liberal narrative about Sarah Palin.

To whet your appetite, here are a couple of choice quotes:

"In the closing weeks of the election, however, I became increasingly disturbed by the mainstream media's avoidance of forthright dealing with several controversies that had been dogging Obama -- even as every flimsy rumor about Sarah Palin was being trumpeted as if it were engraved in stone on Mount Sinai."

"I like Sarah Palin, and I've heartily enjoyed her arrival on the national stage. As a career classroom teacher, I can see how smart she is -- and quite frankly, I think the people who don't see it are the stupid ones, wrapped in the fuzzy mummy-gauze of their own worn-out partisan dogma. So she doesn't speak the King's English -- big whoop! There is a powerful clarity of consciousness in her eyes. She uses language with the jumps, breaks and rippling momentum of a be-bop saxophonist. I stand on what I said (as a staunch pro-choice advocate) in my last two columns -- that Palin as a pro-life wife, mother and ambitious professional represents the next big shift in feminism. Pro-life women will save feminism by expanding it, particularly into the more traditional Third World."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Ahem

Seen on a church sign last night . . .

"My hope is built on nothing less

than Jesus' blood and righteousness"

--a hymn

Oh, come on now, who cares what hymn or who wrote it? Aren't those old hymns and hymn writers all the same?



Moving On

Earlier this evening my daughter ran up to me with a huge smile on her face and gave me a Texas-sized bear hug, saying, "You wrote a blog post on something besides politics! I am SO PROUD of you!"

I also turned on The Young and the Restless instead of Fox News or Rush Limbaugh today while I was getting dressed and putting on a little make-up. (Yes, I know Y&R doesn't come on until almost lunchtime. I'm a homeschool mom, remember? I'm too busy to get dressed until lunchtime.)

What I'm not sure of is what my expanding horizons indicate. Am I truly moving on, putting the election behind me? Or am I merely mired in denial, pretending that things are returning to normal when deep down I know that the definition of "normal" has changed forever?

I'll have to get back to you on that one. But judging from this post, I think the answer may be the latter. (In which case you can probably expect more political posts. Sorry, honey.)

YouTube--A Homeschooler's Friend

A few weeks ago at supper my husband made a Michael Jackson joke at the dinner table (I'll spare you the details). My children, who are not very knowledgeable of popular culture (especially that of their parents' generation), did not get it. So we had a Michael Jackson lesson--who he was and is (with some discussion of how he got to be that way)--and then we marched over to the computer for some audio-visual aids. We spent at least half an hour watching Michael Jackson videos from "ABC" on Ed Sullivan to "Thriller" to "Billie Jean" (including that famous moonwalk on the Grammy Awards) to "Man in the Mirror." As we watched the "Man in the Mirror" video we identified the various historical events that are pictured in the video.

What would we do without YouTube? We have frequently used it in this way, not only for recreation but for education. It's a vast and rich resource, and it's FREE!

One suggestion: if you have not used YouTube before and decide to give it a try, avoid the comment section. You can do so by simply not scrolling down. The comments are not moderated and can sometimes be profane.

In case you want to walk down memory lane (or give your children a 20th century history lesson), here's that "Man in the Mirror" video--one of MJ's best songs, I think.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Prediction

Courtesy of my smarter half:

Watch for global warming to fade in importance in an Obama administration. Why? Because the whole point of the global warming agenda is the advancement of the socialist state. With a socialist state firmly in place, the global warming cause is no longer politically useful.

An Encouraging Thought

During his campaign, President-Elect Obama somehow managed to paint himself as a tax-cutter. What he did not share with the American people, however, and what most of the mainstream media also did not point out, is his plan to let the George W. Bush tax cuts expire. This will of course amount to a tax increase, not only an increase in tax rates but the disappearance of the child tax credit that has been such a help to American families.

But here's reason to hope. I believe the Bush tax cuts are set to expire in 2010. That means when we pay our taxes in 2011 we will still be benefiting from them. Assuming President Obama does allow them to expire, that means when we all sit down to pay our 2011 taxes, it will be 2012. Now think about this for a minute, my dear readers . . . what happens in 2012?

Exactly. Election year. So either Obama thinks twice about letting those tax cuts expire, or he goes ahead and lets them expire and the American people feel the hit right before they have to choose a president.

Thank God for democracy.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Obama State

The Obama Revolution is already starting, and I fear it's going to be worse than I ever imagined.

So much for all those theories about starting out slowly, not over-reaching, and administering with a moderate hand. This guy is on the march.

The bright side is that the sooner America sees his true agenda, the sooner we may be able to take back our country.

2010 is only two years away.

A Benefit of the Economic Downturn?

According to this article, daycare facilities across the country are seeing declining numbers as parents are pulling their children out because of inability to pay. The article outlines various strategies parents are utilizing instead, including rearranging schedules so that one parent can always be home for the children and turning to family members (particularly grandparents) to help out with child care. The attitude of the article is that this is all VERY BAD NEWS.

Huh? Children spending more time with parents and grandparents is a bad thing?

Granted, there are horror stories about parents who leave their children with unqualified people in unsafe environments or who even go so far as to leave their children in the car while they are working. But these are indicative of bad parenting, not a child care or economic crisis.

What I resent most of all is the child care "expert" in the video that accompanies the article who predicts dire consequences of children not being able to attend day care. Her argument is that somehow they will miss out on crucial early learning and that as a result they will be intellectually harmed for the rest of their lives.

Again, huh? This ridiculous argument assumes that children can learn nothing from their parents or other caregivers. Those of us who homeschool beg to differ, having found that the nurturing environment of the home, with teachers who love their "students" more than this world, is in fact the best possible learning situation.

I currently send my 5-year-old son to our church preschool. But I don't do it so that he can learn. I do it because it gives me a few hours several times a week to do things that are harder to do with a 5-year-old around and because it's fun for him. And in our case, because my husband is on staff at our church, tuition is free. If we had to pay for preschool, my son wouldn't be attending because we would not be able to afford it. It is a luxury, not a necessity.

My husband and I have been considering the state of the economy and what effect the President-Elect might have on our own financial situation. We are not optimistic. If it turns out that our tax situation changes to the point that it is not profitable for me to do the part-time work I am currently doing, I will quit and spend even more time with my children than I do right now. And you know, that might not be such a bad thing.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Post Election Day Thoughts

President-Elect Obama's appointment of the take-no-prisoners Rahm Emmanuel as Chief of Staff is cause for concern in light of his promise to set a "new tone" in Washington. On the other hand, who can blame him? If our guy had won, we would be cheering such an in your face appointment.

Obama's nasty slap at Nancy Reagan during his first press conference was also unbecoming of someone who has positioned himself as a healer and uniter. For the record, Mrs. Reagan did not hold seances but consulted with a psychic/astrologer in the wake of the attempt on her husband's life. She was distraught. To make light of anything related to that terrible episode in America's history is callous and unworthy of the presidency. I am glad Senator Obama apologized. But seeing such carelessness with words in his first presidential-style appearance is troubling to me.

I am disgusted with the Sarah Palin rumor-mongering that is emanating from some unnamed cretins in the McCain campaign. Shame on them. John McCain should come out with a forceful disavowal of their behavior and an affirmation of all that Governor Palin brought to his campaign.

I am very worried about our country and about where the new president is going to take us, not only because I disagree with his core beliefs but also because I just don't think he has the discernment required for the job. But it cannot be denied that he is a remarkable and intelligent man. I am clinging to that fact, hoping and praying that once he is privy to the full range of presidential knowledge, he will moderate some of his plans and ideas. I am also taking comfort in the fact that he is a husband and father and that surely he will want to take steps to preserve and protect his own family as well as mine in this dangerous world. May the Lord grant him wisdom as he leads us forward.

Finally . . . thank God it's over! I feel like I can breathe again!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Well Done!

On my Lutheran homeschooling email list, parents (usually moms) sometimes post what is known as a "mommy brag" in which they highlight something special one of their children has achieved. Today in our homeschool literature class my 13-year-old daughter submitted this essay comparing and contrasting the false gods of the ancient Greeks with the one true God of Christianity. I thought it was particularly well written and would like to share it here.

Much of the story in the Iliad is dependent on the gods and goddesses. They take on human identities and meddle in the lives of mortals, taking sides and favoring certain warriors. They are often shallow and quite dishonorable. They always seem to be at each other's throats and are very prone to impulses and whims. The one true God of Judeo-Christianity dramatically contrasts with this. He is sinless, wise beyond imagining, just, and steadfast.

It seems natural, however, that the Greek gods and goddesses would have such human flaws and weaknesses, since they were created by people. The Greeks would want gods that would fit their imperfection. Of course, having the gods be imperfect is a terrible scheme, because without a perfect god what hope is there for perfect eternal life in heaven?

A good example of this imperfection is Zeus. As king of the gods, one would expect him to be wise and fair. However, he is ruthless and seems to think of humanity as playthings. For example, during the Iliad, he treats the war like some entertaining spectacle and gradually becomes bored with it even while blood is being shed right before his eyes. One can only imagine what the world would be like if such a god really were ruler of the entire earth!

Another example is Aphrodite, the goddess of love. It seems to me that the Greeks held love in very high esteem, but the love of Aphrodite is still not the same as the love of the Judeo-Christian God. In fact, Aphrodite even seems apt to cause discord. In the Iliad, she offers Paris the most beautiful woman in the world - Helen, who, of course, is already married! One could even say that Aphrodite was the main initiator of the Trojan War. The love of the one true God, however, is perfect and infallible, and brings not strife but salvation. Aphrodite's kind of "love" seems to be closer to sexual infatuation than true, perfect love.

The gods and goddesses of ancient Greece reflect our weaknesses and can help us to understand ourselves better. Many of them have some very good qualities. But they are not real and can do nothing to save us. Only the one true God can bring us salvation and perfection.

Not bad, huh?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Confessional Lutherans, Take Note

The new organization Brothers of John the Steadfast (BJS) will hold its first ever national conference on February 13-14, 2009, at Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, Illinois. Keynote speaker will be Chris Rosebrough of Pirate Christian Radio. Read more about the conference here. Then go mark your calendars and plan now to join us for this historic gathering. (And don't forget the cognac and cigars!)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Did I Hear That Right?

From Obama's victory speech last night:

"Government can't solve every problem."

Well, duh.

Looks like he's already coming around.

Back to Reality

And so it begins . . .

This is why we have to start praying daily for our new president.

Something to Celebrate

Here's an article about a 109-year old woman named Amanda Jones whose father was a slave until the age of 12. Now she has lived to witness the election of a black man to the presidency. Who among us can't smile about that?

By the way, the granddaughter pictured with Mrs. Jones in the article was in my high school graduating class in Bastrop, Texas. So here's a shout-out to her: HI, BRENDA!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Godspeed, John, and Thank You

Karl Rove, moments ago on Fox News, agreed with Chris Wallace's assessment of Barack Obama's election as a "great night" for this country, marking as it does the point at which the legacy of slavery and racism was at last put to rest. Right now I am watching a gracious John McCain concede and call for unity.

Somehow I don't think we would be hearing the same kinds of words if there had been a different outcome.

Congratulations, Mr. Obama

You and your family will be in my prayers. May you lead with wisdom and a commitment to preserving that which is best about our beloved United States of America. I wish you the best.

Psalm 10:16-18

The LORD is king forever and ever;
The nations perish from His land.
O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted;
You will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear
To do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed
So that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.


A Pony Tail and a Parka . . .

is what Sarah Palin wore to the polls just moments ago. Gosh, I love this woman.

Now the Governor is off to Arizona. May God bless her. I hope tomorrow I'll be calling her by a new title.

I Like This

Check out today's Battleground poll (PDF). It's within the margin of error.

Election Day

Tell me I'm delusional.

Tell me I'm desperate.

Tell me I'm living in denial.

Tell me I'm just plain dumb.

Call me what you will--I don't care. Because I think the pollsters have gotten this wrong, and I predict that John McCain will be our next president.

And of course, if he does win, the charges of racism will begin (because apparently there aren't any other legitimate reasons for voting against Obama).

But I ask--if America is such a horribly racist nation, why is the more politically correct vote the one that is placed for the black man? How could Obama have so quickly risen from political insignificance to a chance at the presidency? How could he have won the ballot in Dixville Notch, New Hampshire this morning? (A town that is not known for predicting the outcome, by the way.)

If he loses, as I think he will, it will be because Americans took a closer look and decided he is too liberal and risky a choice. Perhaps they have taken another look and seen some of what Thomas Sowell so eloquently describes in a recent column. Here's an excerpt:

Barack Obama has the kind of cocksure confidence that can only be achieved by not achieving anything else.

Anyone who has actually had to take responsibility for consequences by running any kind of enterprise-- whether economic or academic, or even just managing a sports team-- is likely at some point to be chastened by either the setbacks brought on by his own mistakes or by seeing his successes followed by negative consequences that he never anticipated.

The kind of self-righteous self-confidence that has become Obama's trademark is usually found in sophomores in Ivy League colleges-- very bright and articulate students, utterly untempered by experience in real world.

Lord, have mercy on us if this man becomes the leader of the world. I'm going to pray now. See you at the polls!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Update

I failed to include full text and tune information for the hymn highlighted in the previous post. The post has now been updated with that information.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Feast of All Saints

"And There's Another Country"
Text: Cecil Spring-Rice, 1859-1918 & Bernard of Cluny, 12th century
Tune: Gustav Holst, 1874-1934

And there's another country I've heard of long ago,
Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;
We may not count her armies, we may not see her King;
Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering
And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
And her ways are ways of gentleness and all her paths are peace.

O sweet and blessed country, the home of God's elect,
O sweet and blessed country that eager hearts expect
Where they who with their leader have conquered in the fight
Forever and forever are clad in robes of white.
In mercy Jesus bring us to that dear land of rest
Where sings the host of heaven thy glorious name to bless.

The Christ is ever with them, the daylight is serene
The pastures of the blessed are decked in glorious sheen.
There is the throne of David; and there from care released,
The shout of them that triumph, the song of them that feast;
There God enthroned in glory; through all in all depend,
The Lamb forever blessed, the light that knows no end.


video


(Video of LCMS High School Honor Choir, directed by Kurt von Kampen and accompanied by Jeffrey Blersch on organ, recorded July 24, 2008, at the LCMS National Institute on Worship, Preaching and the Liturgy. The text being sung in the video is not the one provided above but is instead Pastor Stephen Starke's paraphrase of the Te Deum--"We Praise You and Acknowledge You." The tune, however, (THAXTED) is used for both texts, so if you don't know it, this will at least put it in your ear. Recorded on a cell phone, the sound & video quality do not do the performance justice, but you can still get a little taste of a glorious hymn festival enjoyed by the conference attendees.)

One-Day Zogby Poll Shows McCain Up

Zogby, International polling for yesterday, October 31, showed a 1-point McCain advantage over Obama (48% to 47%). McCain is still down in the 3-day tracking. But I can't help wondering if this is the start of something!

Read more here.