Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Beatrice Is Interviewed

Mom told me that Newman the Catahoula over at Rev. Kim's place wants to interview me. I can't read yet, but she agreed to read me the questions and post the answers. Here goes.


1. What is your typical daily routine?

Wake up. Shake all over. Go outside to do "business". Chew something. Come back and sleep on El Jefe's lap while he has breakfast, reads the paper, and marks up giant documents. He's no fun: he won't let me chew the documents. Follow QG and Babs everywhere they go. Chew anything in reach. Have a walk. Chew grass, leaves, trash. Nap. Go outside. Nap. Go outside. Chew some more. Have a walk. Eat. Chew my toys. Nap. Go outside. More chewing. Bedtime!

2. Do you have a favorite toy?

My snuggle Buddy. My tennis ball. My teething ring. I can't count yet, you know.

3. I hear my humans talking sometimes about "the Great Ends of the Church." What are "the Great Ends of the Dachshund?"

The Great End of the Dachshund is Badger Hunting. If there are no badgers, I'll settle for a rabbit, squirrel, bird or a frog.

4. We have something in common. We are both named after famous people - me after a famous man with beautiful blue eyes who has been in movies, races cars, and makes food products. I'm named after him because I'm told I also have beautiful blue eyes. Do you have anything in common with the famous person after whom you're named?

I was named after Princess Beatrice, Queen Victoria's youngest child who never left the castle but stayed with her mother. I'm treated like a princess and I'm definitely the youngest around here!

5. What do you love most about your new family?

I conned El Jefe and QG into letting me sleep at the foot of the bed. I'm good! The sainted Gretel never pulled that off!

RevGalDogPals or CatPals (or humans, for that matter), would you like to be interviewed by Beatrice The Bold Puppy? Here are the rules:

1. If you are interested in being interviewed, leave a comment here on my mom's blog saying, 'interview me.'

2. I will respond by posting five questions for you. I get to pick the questions.

3. You will update your blog with a post with your answers to the questions.

4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.

5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Thanks for reading my post. Love and kisses,

Beatrice, the Bold Puppy

Monday, October 29, 2007

My Favorite Longhorn

Saturday, El Jefe, Babs and I traveled to Austin with our good friend "Dr. O" to see his son Chris Ogbonnaya (#3!) play for the UT Longhorns in their game vs. Nebraska. It was perfect football weather and we had a wonderful time getting a chance to sit in the "parents' section" on the 50 yard line. The Longhorns made the game a bit TOO exciting until the last quarter when they scored 3 touchdowns to get the win.

After the game, we got a chance to visit with Chris and one of the Longhorn Moms snapped this photo for us.

We've known Chris since he was about 3 years old and we all met at church. His two older sisters were close friends of Portia and Babs and occasionally Chris used to come along with them to swim in our pool or play. El Jefe would teach him to shoot baskets or play softball and spotted his athletic talent early on.

Dr. O told us Chris was nominated by the coach for Academic All-American. He is a history major and plans to go to business or law school after he graduates. He's a winner to us, whether or not he is given that award. We're so proud of the outstanding young man Chris has become.

And by the way, he was also a youth elder in high school.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Combating Real Halloween Terrors

The RevGals weekly Friday Five meme this week is all about Halloween. It's a fun meme, and I encourage you to check it out and play along if you like. I was going to join in, but after attending the International Justice Mission fund-raising dinner last night in Houston, I'm still pondering the problem of real, intractable evil in this world. This IJM video I found on You Tube, above, is the same video that introduced the program last night.

Last August I heard IJM's president and founder Gary Haugen speak at the Presbyterian Global Fellowship meeting in Houston and wrote about it here. Last night, El Jefe and my niece and nephew joined me and a crowd of other Houstonians to hear his message that the problem of aggressive human violence against the poor and powerless of the world is pervasive and can be combated with legal means.

As a former prosecutor of child abuse cases, I am inspired and moved by their work. As a Presbyterian and Calvinist, I see concrete evidence of Total Depravity (as in T.U.L.I.P.) in the stories told about IJM's work freeing people from slavery and children from the child prostitution trade in the Far East. Interestingly, most of the tips IJM receives to investigate come from missionaries of all denominations.

Back in the day when I was a trick-or-treater, we used to collect donations for UNICEF as well as candy as we worked our way around the neighborhood. This Halloween why not join El Jefe and I in making a donation to IJM to help children who suffer unspeakable evil not from imaginary ghosts, witches, and ghouls, but at the hands of their fellow man?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Withdrawal Challenge

Yesterday, General Council was notified that the session of one of our churches (Heritage Presbyterian Church, Houston) has called a congregational meeting for the purpose of voting on its proposal that the church be dismissed with its property from the PCUSA, and affiliate with the New Wineskins Presbytery of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. This is the first church in our presbytery to do this and we are very saddened by this development.

Almost exactly a year ago Presbytery of New Covenant approved a process addressing congregations seeking to withdraw from the denomination in the hope we would never need it. The goal of the process is to make reconciliation and relationship the most important aspects of the process, whatever the outcome of the congregational vote. Now we will find whether the process will work as envisioned.

Heritage invited presbytery to send representatives to attend and speak at the discussion meetings and the congregational meetings, saying that their issues were not with Presbytery of New Covenant but with the national denomination. We're appointing a review team to do that and appreciate the collegiality evidenced by the invitation.

Prayers for all involved are appreciated.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Nun Run and Other News

QG tries to keep faithful readers abreast of the latest religious developments in the greater Houston area. Thankfully, this time I don't have anything to report on the Lakewood Church front because the Co-pastors Osteen are out of town on a book tour.

So here's what's up lately:

Best religious news story of the week
: Nuns and bikers joined together in the 3rd annual Nun Run to raise $100,000 for a local clinic that serves needy families in the Houston area.

According to the Houston Chronicle, 19 nuns hopped aboard motorcycle sidecars along with 250 bikers to make the 50 mile ride from their convent in Houston to Galveston Island.

You've gotta love Sister Deenan Hubbard, who was sporting a temporary rose tatoo on her arm for the journey! Go, sisters.

First Texas Cardinal: Archbishop Daniel DiNardo of the Galveston-Houston Archdiocese was appointed the first cardinal from Texas by Pope Benedict XVI last week. Inquiring minds want to know if the Vatican will let him wear a cowboy hat instead of the galero?

Gilgamesh Read-In At Ecumenical Chapel: Houston Mayor Bill White will join controversial oil magnate Oscar Wyatt, long-time liberal political activist Sissy Farenthold, and a couple of local politicos at the Rothko Chapel to for a read-in of the entire Mesopotamian epic, Gilgamesh. What a motley crew! This event is in connection with promotion of a new English version of the epic, the original of which is thought to have been lost in the fall of the Ninevah. I guess they didn't listen to Jonah after all.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Eucharistic Theology Quiz: QG is Calvin of course!

Eucharistic theology
created with QuizFarm.com
You scored as Calvin

You are John Calvin. You seek to be faithful to Scripture, and to harmonize difficult sayings. You believe that in the Lord's Supper those who have faith are united to Christ, who is present spiritually, yet in a real way.













Hat Tip to Gord for this quiz.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Friday Borger Blogging

Here's the last of my pump jack pictures from our trip to El Jefe's hometown of Borger, Texas.

Fittingly, this is the patriotic-themed pump jack in Huber Park. There is a lot of support for the military in Borger, as there is in most of the state. A few years ago the town erected a tribute to those who had served in the armed services. El Jefe's father (WWII) and his cousins (Viet Nam) are among those honored on that monument.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Medium Is NOT The Message

I'm getting a lesson in the use of internet resources for Bible study this week. The BSD studies require a LOT of looking up of different scriptural references. Although the lessons vary, you usually look up 10 to 20 different citations in addition to the assigned reading. That's a lot of thumbing through your Bible.

There are several websites that let you search the Bible by book, chapter and verse in many many different translations. One of the most straightforward and easy to use is Bible Gateway. It seems some diligent ladies in the group have used this method to find the verses for every lesson for the entire year and printed them out.

I got a copy of one of these supplements and used it this week. It is a great timesaver, which I really needed today. When I have more time, I like to use these sites to compare different translations, especially when I find the meaning of the verses difficult. It's always interesting to see what The Message version is.

It's probably a generational thing, but it doesn't seem as much like Bible study to me if I'm not putting my hands on my trusty Access Bible while working through the lesson. And I think of myself as being pretty good with computers! I bet that is not the reaction of the young women in the group who have used computers all their lives.

When El Jefe and I were in New Haven last weekend we stopped at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, where he worked in his student days. We saw the copy of the Gutenburg Bible which is a very large folio-size volume with calligraphic style printing of the Latin text, bound in fine leather.

Whether hewn on stone tablets, handwritten on papyrus, printed on a primitive press, published with modern word processing, or residing on the internet in the form of electric impulses, the Bible is the Word, regardless of its medium. The medium is not the message, after all, just the messenger.

I must remind myself of that!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Battle of the Books

Joel Osteen's latest book, Become a Better You, hit the bookstores this week to the tune of 2.5 million copies. Apparently the book is an edited collection of his sermons.

Watch for Become a Better You to challenge Eat, Pray, Love for supremacy on the New York Times best-seller list. That Osteen marketing machine is awesome. You heard it here first!

The Houston Chronicle is treating us to a series of excerpts from the book this week which is running in the (what else?) Lifestyle section. Which presents me with an ethical dilemma.

Bad QG: I could read the excerpts and write a review based on them without having to buy the book!

Good QG: That would be wrong. You shouldn't review a book you didn't read in its entirety.

Bad QG: But if I read the whole book, it would probably get my goat and then I'd have to invoke the Goat Exception and write a negative review.

Good QG: Deliver me from temptation, Lord.

The struggle continues....

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Ancestor Hunting In the Grove

Grove Street Cemetery dates from 1796, but includes tombstones moved from the earlier colonial burial ground in New Haven. (For more information about the history of the cemetery see Grove Street Cemetery.) The cemetery borders the Yale campus and as you would expect, there are many presidents of the university buried there. But there are also many other graves of historic interest: Eli Whitney, Noah Webster, Charles Goodyear (inventor of vulcanized rubber), and prominent early American scholars, divines, merchants and soldiers.

El Jefe and I have walked around here before, when Portia was an undergraduate. But we didn't realize then that some of my direct ancestors were among the colonial settlers of New Haven and a couple of other neighboring towns. So we thought we'd see if we could find any evidence of them in the cemetery.

The entrance is marked by this Egyptian Revival Gate--very Middle Eastern looking.

The cemetery is landscaped beautifully and there's a lot of effort made to maintain a park-like setting.

El Jefe says that this Sphinx (one of two) was left in the cemetery after the local library was remodeled because no one quite knew what to else to do with them. Perhaps they thought the pair of spinxes went well with the Egyptian Revival Gate?

Eureka! We found it--a tombstone of one of the ancestors. It doesn't mark a grave, because the stones were moved away from the old common burial ground on the town green when the cemetery was created. It is more readable than most of them, and has the flying death's head ornament on the top which was the symbol of the soul going up to God.

Double Eureka! We also found this bonus ancestral grave of a woman who was related to the family. She's buried in her husband's family plot.

I wish that I had planned a drive up to Salem to see where my many times great-grandmother was executed as a witch during the infamous witchcraft trials of the colonial period. It was just too much to squeeze into this quick trip. I have to wonder if this is why both Portia and I wrote major research papers on the Salem witch trials when we were in college. Even though we did not know then that we were related to one of the "witches."

~cue Twilight Zone theme music~

Monday, October 15, 2007

Fall Found

Here it is! Fall foliage in New England. There's not much of it yet. I'm told its been too warm so far for a lot of the leaves to turn, but we found this gorgeous tree strutting her stuff on the Yale campus this weekend.

We found Handsome Dan (the mascot) sitting outside the Yale Bowl before the football game:

You can see a couple of trees starting to turn colors. Yale beat Lehigh so El Jefe was very excited.

We were treated to glorious fall weather Saturday and Sunday, but returned to rain, humidity and temperatures in the low 90's. We enjoyed the break while it lasted!

El Jefe and I spent Friday morning at the historic Grove Street cemetery where I found the tombstones of two of my family's ancestors. That adventure is worthy of a post of its own, which I'll put up later this week.

Good to be back!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

In Search of Fall

Here's a picture of something you can't find in my neck of the woods: beautiful fall leaves. The Bradford pear trees in our neighborhood have beautiful red leaves --but not until December.

So this weekend El Jefe and I are off to his alma mater to visit with friends and see a football game--and get a taste of fall weather.

I'll get a chance to take a sweater or two for the outing. Sweaters that will return to languish in my closet for a few more weeks while summer lingers in the Houston area. Lingers? Well, it never really goes away. You just get a norther now and then in the fall and winter.

Alas there's no internet in the hotel we're staying in, so I doubt I'll be blogging again until next week unless I can figure out how to do it with the infamous Blackberry.

Go Bulldogs.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Reviewing the Review

From time to time I like to post book reviews on this blog. The books I choose to review are books that I can generally recommend to readers and friends, even if I have some criticism of them. Last week I made an exception and posted a review of a book that I really, really disliked. In fact, as I admitted, the book and its author got my goat.

It's interesting that this post attracted an unusual number of comments. Usually one of the book review posts gets two to six comments, but this one got more than 20. I didn't realize it when I wrote the post that Oprah would interview the author of that book a couple of days after my review, so the book was getting a lot of attention. That prompted more comments, of course. It's no surprise that Oprah was all over this book and author, eating it up with a spoon, because it fits right in with Oprah's advocacy of a vague sort of "the Universe is telling you something" spiritualism. Oh, drat, there I go again!

Bloggers love comments, and I do, too. Because that book had received a lot of praise and is number 1 on the NY Times best-seller list, I decided to make an exception to my usual policy and explain why I was very critical of it. But my goal with Quotidian Grace is to highlight what is positive and grace-filled in life, rather than focus on what is negative and destructive. So I've resolved to resist the temptation to post negative reviews and focus on the positive, even at the cost of (sob!) fewer comments.

Unless someone gets my goat. Again. :-)

Friday, October 05, 2007

Friday Borger Blogging

Here's another of Borger's decorated pump jacks. This one stands proudly in front of the town high school. The school's mascot is the Bulldog, so you see the row of little bulldogs climbing up the pump. The red and black paint represents the school colors. I wonder if the school cheer was changed to "Pump 'Em, Dogs"?

Thursday, October 04, 2007

4 Things Meme

Gannet Girl took a break from her seminary studies long enough to tag me for the 4 Things Meme that's going around the web. So, GG, here's an excuse to take another break, drop by and comment!

Four Jobs I’ve Held:

Hospital Admissions Clerk

Assistant District Attorney
Associate General Counsel of a corporation
Director of Christian Education

Four Films I Could Watch Over and Over:

Elizabeth R
Robin Hood: Men In Tights
Troop Beverly Hills
Pride and Prejudice

Four TV Shows I Watch:

What Not To Wear
Project Runway
Top Chef
Barefoot Contessa
and I'm embarrassed to admit I watch LA and Miami Ink with Babs

Four Places I’ve Lived:

San Antonio, Texas
Austin, Texas (law school)
Ithaca, New York (college)
Houston, Texas

Four Favorite Foods:

Anything Mexican

Four Websites I Visit Daily

All the blogs on my Google Reader

Four Favorite Colors

Deep Oriental Blue

Four Places I Would Love to be Right Now

Texas Hill Country
Rocky Mountains

Four Names You Love, But Could/Would Not Use for Your Children:

Claudia (the feminine version of El Jefe's never used real first name)
William (didn't have a boy)
Trevor (see above)
Christine (too many versions of this name in the family by the time I had my girls)

Tag Four Bloggers:
Toby Brown (Classical Presbyterian), Rev Dave, Rev Kim and double tag on Mark (Mark Time).

Hope you enjoyed this post, GG. Now....back to the library!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Book Review: Eat Pray Love

Usually I don't bother to review a book that I read but disliked. I'm making an exception for Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Why? Because it has received a bunch of good reviews, is currently number 1 on the New York Times paperback best seller list, and yet it is a load of codswallop not worthy of your time or mine.

I picked the book up in the airport in Dallas because I'd finished the book I took with me and needed something to read on the flight home. I vaguely remembered reading something about it somewhere and thought its theme was about a search for God and might be interesting. Boy was I wrong about that.

Here's the background to this non-fictional memoir: after dumping both her husband (because she didn't feel like being married anymore) and her subsequent boyfriend, a successful thirtyish writer receives a hefty advance from her publisher to write about a planned year of self-discovery in Italy, India and Rome. So the book deal drove the experience she relates, not vice-versa, which makes the entire narrative seem contrived.

Gilbert takes the money and whines around Italy eating, whines around an ashram in India trying a vague sort of New Age spiritualism on for size, and then whines and obsesses around Bali with her new love, a Brazilian expat. The author comes off as an annoying, irresponsible, shallow twit spouting self-justifying twaddle. Sorry for the vitriolic language, but you can tell that this book got my goat.

I'm astounded by the fulsome praise this self-absorbed book and author have received. Check out the reviews on the Amazon website and you will see that my opinion is definitely in the minority. It is a sad and embarrassing reflection on our culture that the faux spirituality Gilbert preaches is so readily accepted, acclaimed and admired. I will agree that she is an engaging and skilled writer, but the fact that she packages this narcissistic opus well reminds me of the old saying about putting earrings on a hog: it's still a hog, just dressed up.

At one point in the "India" section of the book, the author relates her problems meditating with the mantra given to her by her guru. How about this for a mantra that might actually help her on her journey: It's NOT about me.

Don't waste your time with this one.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Of Letters and Blogging

My father was a great letter writer. He was an insurance agent and often found himself with free time while he was waiting to meet with a customer at their home or workplace. To fill the time, and also because he loved correspondence, he would whip out some of his business stationery and write letters to family and friends.

When I was in college I would get several letters from him each week. In those days long-distance phone calls were expensive and reserved for special occasions or a weekly call from college to check in with home. So I loved getting his letters because he had the gift of writing just like he talked.

El Jefe's mother was also a great correspondent with the gift of sending herself along with her letters. She saved in a scrapbook all of the letters and cards he sent her from England the year he spent at Cambridge.

We treasure the relatively few letters we saved from each of them, particularly since they both passed away when Babs and Portia were preschoolers so they don't remember them very well.

Last night it occurred to me that blogging has taken the place of correspondence for many of us. Like my father, I enjoy writing about what is going on around me but I post it on a blog rather than in the mailbox. Since a blog is way more public than a letter, I reserve the more personal information and reflections for phone calls and face-to-face conversations.

Letter writing has become a lost art. Historians have always found old letters a treasure-trove of information for research. Will historians of the future use blogs in the same way?