Thursday, July 21, 2011

ASBC: Karl Maeser and Small Children

What is the connection here? First, a short story from Messer Polo.
Polo travels to a place with an interesting law: "If application for payment shall have been repeatedly made by a creditor, and the debtor puts him off from time to time with false promises, the forfeiter may attach his person by drawing a circle around him, from whence he dare not depart until he has satisfied his creditor, either by payment, or by giving adequate security. Should he attempt to make his escape, he renders himself liable to the punishment of death, as a violater of the rules of justice." (291)

Marco Polo is apparently an eyewitness to a foreign merchant, to whom the king of the country owes money, drawing a circle around the king and his horse while they are out riding one day. (Presumably the horse was standing still for a moment.) The king saw that he had been circled and refused to move until the debt was paid; all the bystanders marvelled at how great the king was for submitting to his own laws of justice.

Back to the title. Remember that Karl Maeser quote about the chalk circle? Not so original after all. Also, I have been having a surprisingly great yet busy time this week watching various small relatives. But I was sure wishing I could draw a circle around my nephew and leave him there after he jumped back into the bathtub with his pajamas on. (You owe me the five minutes of my life I spent wrestling you into those pajamas!)

Monday, July 18, 2011

ASBC: Marco Polo Confusion

The Anti-Social Book Club meets!

First off, I have issues with introductions to biographies--if the book can be summed up in 10 pages why read the book? Anyway, Komroff's introduction started getting long and pointless, and there was a prologue after that, so I skipped the last part of the introduction and the entire prologue. It's a big book, you know. I felt like I was wasting time. I went back at the end and read it just so I could say I read the whole thing, and the prologue was actually good. Point: Do we really need an introduction and a prologue?

So. Marco Polo. I didn't get the sense that Polo was writing for a desperate housewife who likes to read interesting travelogues, but instead for a businessman who likes to read facutal descriptions of business opportunities. I will expound. Polo's descriptions can be divided into two main categories. Business: because Marco Polo talks a lot about the local spices, wares, products, etc., that would be good for resale, and man: because Polo also likes to delve into the sexual habits of the local idolaters. In a very factual way, of course. Maybe it loses something in the translation, or maybe Komroff was right, that Polo doesn't really have a sense of humor or a poetic mind.  Anyway, a simultaneously boring and interesting read, due to the whole businessman thing.

Feel free to comment. More thoughts to come.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Google Stress

Dear Google:

Please stop coming up with new things. I just checked my email and now I have 5 different styles of inboxes I can try. Also, you have started marking some emails as important for me without my consent and introduced Google+ that I need to investigate because all the cool people are doing it. Too much work. May I suggest that your employees have too much time on their hands? Not all of us want to spend half our day using various Google thingamajiggers. 


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Road Trip Madness

Here I am in Omaha, Nebraska, one week and 4350 miles after I left home...942 to go tomorrow.  I have seen more of God's green country in this past week than I have in the past two years. Austin and I really liked the northern parts of Ohio, Pennsylania, and New York. We might move there someday.

Recap Part A:We saw a lot of church history sites. We saw Niagara Falls and Scranton, PA.  We went to the Nauvoo Temple. We had multi-generational bonding and multi-generational fighting over directions and multi-generational driving in circles around small towns trying to find our way out. We survived a massive storm that felled trees around us. We saw Amish people.

Recap Part B: I am really really sick of road trips and I'll never do this again with small children. I will sit in my living room and stare at the mountains for 5 days and then maybe, just maybe, I will take a very small drive to visit my parents.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Another Talk about Faith

Faith...we hear a lot about it. During a church lesson last Sunday, the teacher talked about how after her first husband died of an illness, she thought for a long time that it was her fault--she just hadn't had enough faith to save him. Wow! That really got me to question what I believe about faith. I don't know how much the Lord interferes in the workings of a fallen world--I know He lets the rain fall on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45), that He lets life happen. However, I also know He can change outcomes for us.

This past week I read a letter from my cousin Sarah talking about what she's learned about faith from her mission. She said:

"I've learned that faith isn't manufacturing belief in some particular outcome. It is trust and belief in Christ, it is judging him faithful who has promised. Faith is in the Lord, not in an event. With faith, we can and do what the Lord needs us to do, and we can have the confidence to ask for what needs to happen and the Lord will show his power for our good. Miracles happen, I have never seen them change the behavior of a person, but it is nice to receive the help that we need in response to faith."

I agree with Sarah. Faith is not so much believing that the Lord will get us that job, help us sell a house, or heal our illness. (If I just believe hard enough, it will happen!) Faith is believing that whatever happens, the Lord will cause all things to work together for our good. (Romans 8:28)