Saturday, October 24, 2015

Genesis 49 [Jacob keeps blessing his sons, and then dies]

So Joseph called all 12 of his sons together so he could tell them what would happen to them.

This is what he said:

 "Reuben, you are my oldest son, very powerful. But you are out of control, like a flood. You fucked the slave that I was fucking, and that's really disrespectful. So you lose."

"Simeon and Levi are brothers, but they are super violent for no reason. They've killed a lot of people and cut the legs off of bulls just for fun. I hope God curses you. Your kids will be scattered around Israel."

"Judah, you win. You will control your enemies. You are like a lion who kills his victim and then sleeps.  Nobody would wake you up. You will tie your donkey to a vine, and you will tie your horse to the best branch. You will wash your clothes in wine. Your eyes will be red from drinking wine, and your teeth will be white from drinking milk."

"Zebulon, you will live by the ocean and be a safe harbor for ships."

"Issachar is like a wild donkey chilling in the sheep pens. He sees how good his land is, and will work hard like a slave."

"Dan will be fair. He will be like a snake on a road that bite's a horse's heel to make the rider fall off."

"Gad will be attacked by robbers, but he will attack them as they run away."

"Asher will make awesome food; even a king would enjoy it."

"Naphtali is a female deer that gives birth to beautiful baby deer."

"Joseph is a vine that grows a lot of fruit. Haters will shoot arrows at him, but Joseph will win. God will bless you with lots of good things."

"Benjamin is a hungry wolf. In the morning he kills and eats, and in the evening he shares whatever he stole."


After that, Jacob told his sons that he wanted to be buried in the same cave as all his relatives, including Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, and Leah. Then he pulled his feet up into his bed and died.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Prayer is a way to pretend to do something.

This is both an interesting story of human devotion... and a tragic story of wasted life.

If they had only taken those 131 years of prayer and used them to do some real action in the world, instead of just pretending to take action...

It makes my heart hurt.

      For Franciscan sisters, every day is prayer day - JSOnline

For Franciscan sisters, every day is prayer day
Mark Hoffman

A sister and three prayer partners rise to make way for the next group in the Adoration Chapel of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration.

By Annysa Johnson of the Journal Sentinel

Posted: May. 6, 2009

La&enspCrosse — Every morning, about an hour and a half past midnight, Sister Marie Leone LaCroix rises in the darkness of her room at St. Rose Convent.

The Franciscan sister, 91, slides into her bathrobe and slippers, takes her cane and slowly makes her way to the dimly-lighted chapel.

There, LaCroix sits before the marble altar where, in an ornate golden vessel, rests a consecrated host Catholics believe to be the body of Christ. And there, she takes her place in an unending chain of prayer that began long before she was born.

"It's so quiet. It's such a serene time to be with God," LaCroix said.

Her order, the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, has prayed before the Holy Eucharist in shifts around the clock since 1878.

Millions of Americans will carve out a moment of their time Thursday to connect with God as part of the 59th annual National Day of Prayer. But for these sisters, who maintain what is thought to be the nation's longest-running perpetual adoration of the Eucharist - 131 years - it is a day like any other, a day devoted to prayer.

"That's our holy, sacred, wonderful privilege," LaCroix said.

Adoration of the Eucharistic, a Christian devotional practice that dates to the Middle Ages, is seeing a resurgence in some Catholic parishes and schools.

The La Crosse devotion grew out of a schism in a Franciscan order that settled in Milwaukee from Bavaria in the late 1840s to teach German immigrants.

Diverted from education to housekeeping for priests, the founders broke away, resettling first in Jefferson and later in La Crosse, where they taught in Catholic schools and cared for orphans.

In 1865, the order's superior made a two-fold promise: If God would bless their ministries with success, she vowed, the sisters would build a chapel and devote their lives to prayer in perpetual adoration of the Eucharist.

And so they have, through war and peace, through boom times and bust, through a raging fire that destroyed the original convent in the 1920s, killing one of the sisters before stopping just outside the chapel doors.

Today, 325 sisters and 120 lay partners offer their prayers for their community, the wider world and for the individual intentions of the faithful around the globe who send their petitions via e-mail or telephone or letter.

"I'm so touched by the requests that come in - a young child having surgery, or a mother with complications in pregnancy," said Sister Amy Taylor, 32, a former school teacher, who has spent the last year preparing to join the novitiate this summer.

"It's really about the human story, the daily struggles and joys," she said. "We intercess on their behalf. But we also journey with them."

These days, many requests reflect the economic turmoil roiling outside the convent's doors.

"They ask, 'Please pray for the sale of our house' or 'that I get a new job,' " said Sister Constance Walton, who coordinates the adoration.

She responds to all who seek their prayers, typing up a new list of intentions each day and shredding them each night to protect the privacy of petitioners.

"It moves your heart," she said, "to know that your neighbors and friends are dealing with these things."

Inside the Adoration Chapel, stone angels flank the marble altar awash in candlelight.

Chimes ring signifying the start of a new hour, and so begins a silent and solemn changeover.

The adorers stand, then step aside as their colleagues take their place. In unison, they pray:

"O Sacrament most holy,

O Sacrament divine,

All praise and all thanksgiving be every moment Thine.

Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, furnace of divine love,

Grant peace to the world."

The first group bows, almost imperceptibly toward the altar, then leaves, and the new adorers recite the Prayer of St. Francis:

"Lord, make me an instrument of your peace ..."

But for a few specific prayers and the intentions prepared by Walton, the adorers are free to connect with the divine any way they choose. Some recite traditional prayers, some read from the Bible; some meditate or contemplate. And for some, it's changed over the years.

"I used to use more words," said Sister Mary Kathryn Fogarty, 70, who has been praying the adoration since she joined the order at the age of 20. "Now, I'm content to gaze upon Christ... to contemplate being in the presence of Christ."

Today, she prays not so much for things or specific outcomes, but for understanding and a closeness to God - not just for herself, but for those who petition for her prayers.

"I ask that that person comes to know how deep God's love for them is, how forgiven they are... and that if something is holding them back from that love and forgiveness, that they be able to let it go," Fogarty said. "I don't necessarily get what I want, but I get a deep peace."

For some, the years spent in adoration have changed even their understanding of the divine.

"You learn how to talk to Him. You find out what He's like, not as a statue, not as a stern punishing God. That has left me," said 97-year-old Sister Lucille Kleinheinz.

"You learn that he is light, and he is complete life. That's the God we worship in perpetual adoration."

Many find it hard to explain the depth of their devotion.

"You know, honey, that's awfully difficult," said LaCroix, a retired teacher at nearby Viterbo College.

"If you would ask an elderly couple who've been in love for years, 'How do you feel when you hold one another's hand?'

"You can't express that kind of love. I can't express my deep love for my God. It's something that is personal, profound and sacred."

Sunday, April 26, 2009

pandemic beginning?

I'm usually not the kind of guy that buys into the hype about diseases, but this swine flu has me jittery.  Probably mostly because I teach in a school with many ties to Mexico, and the flu has been discovered in Kansas.  Dickinson county, which is a couple of hours away, but right down the interstate from me.

It's times like this that being a teacher might not be the healthiest career choice.

I'm encouraged by the fact that so far the cases have been mild, so if I catch it soon, it will hopefully be milder than when it becomes more virulent and wipes out a third of the United States.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I love cell phones... except for talking

I have this thing about talking on the phone.

I hate it. 

I always have hated talking on the phone. I don't know why.  It just kind of fills me with dread.  I wouldn't last 10 minutes as a telemarketer.  I would rather talk to someone IRL, or email or text.

I like text.  I'm one of those people waiting for texting to replace voice-mail.

But voice-mail is still better than talking to people on the phone for real.  I have a paid account to slydial, and I use it often.
It's so weird.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

can wires be human?

I'm predicting an argument in a few minutes.

As part of a science book club, we've been reading The Singularity is Near by Ray Kurzweil.  Some people consider Kurzweil a prophet of technological superiority, and some consider him to be a crank.  I'm somewhere in the middle.

Kurzweil predicts that most of us alive today will reach the point where we will modify ourselves enough to be considered "nonbiological" - we will have replaced some (or all) of our flesh and bone with synthetic and nanorobotic substitutes.

One of my friends (a biologist, natch) is horrified at the idea, saying we would lose our humanity.  She thinks there is something necessary about our messy biology.

I totally disagree.  To say that we stop being human if we become electronic, I think, assumes that there is something beyond our bodies and brains that makes us human.  I think that is one of the ways supernaturalism still sneaks into our thinking.  I mean, if humans are self-contained in their skin, then our humanity is also self-contained. We really just define human as "us".  Then we would still be human even if we replaced it all. 

Otherwise, where is the point at which we stop being human?  When we replace half of our internal organs?  Three-fourths?  The brain?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

What to do when there's a glut of atheist blogs

I've been wondering for awhile what to do with this blog.

There are a plethora of atheist blogs out there, most of which all discuss the same topics, and try to drum up indignant outrage or mockery at something or other the Christians are doing in the media.  Or they just rehash all the arguments for and against god.

I'm over all that.  That's part of why I haven't posted since January.

But I also don't want to stop the blog.  I find it's useful to get my thoughts on the page.  Plus I've made some friends and I don't want to break up with them, lol.

[aside:  I'm distracted because I'm currently watching Be Kind Rewind - it started off pretty underwhelming, but is getting pretty good now].

So I predict tht my blog, if it is going to survive, will evolve.  Not into the lame ego-driven laundry list of "things I did today".  But it will probably become more random; I'll post on whatever topics are on my mind at the moment, whether a full entry or only a few sentences.  I'm always fascinated with fringe culture; I'll probably muse on those things.
  Of course, it will continue from the atheist/skeptical perspective. 

Umm, so yeah. 

Sunday, January 4, 2009

overwork and tooth fairies

I cannot kill myself with school next semester like I did last semester. I ignored too many things in my personal life that help keep me sane.

Part of the problem is that I have had a great many wonderful ideas that I can use to help teach students math from different perspectives. However, I pushed myself to develop too many of them too quickly, which not only didn't work, but made me neglect my personal life. That sucks.


My niece is becoming one of my favorite people. She is five years old, and has already figured out that there is no Easter Bunny. She told her dad (my brother) that she knows the Easter Bunny isn't real because she has never seen a rabbit that big anywhere.

She also knows Santa Claus isn't real, but likes to still pretend he is.

But my favorite thing about her is her approach to the Tooth Fairy. She is very suspicious about the Tooth Fairy's existence, even though she hasn't lost a tooth yet. She has a great train of logic for a 5-year old: She knows that fairies aren't real, and she knows that the Tooth Fairy is, well, a fairy. So she has devised an experiment: her hypothesis is that the tooth fairy is really just parents. So she has given her dad instructions - when she loses her tooth, he is not allowed to put money under her pillow. Then, if money still appears, the tooth fairy is real. If money doesn't appear, then the tooth fairy doesn't exist. She is very serious about this, and has reminded her dad several times to make sure he doesn't put money under her pillow.

Her dad is torn about how to respond. He wants to respect her experiment, but he also wants her to have the experience of the Tooth Fairy.