Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Fasting Postponed and other matters.

Due to some extenuating circumstances, I am pushing back the start of the fast. Hopefully not more than a week. It looks like I am moving this weekend and so being on a much lower energy level is not a good idea.

This move was not planned, but under current circumstances, it is what needs to happen if I am going to retain any sanity and keep my nerves under control.

I would appreciate any prayers over my living situation, as well as the job search. I interviewed last week for what would be a part-time job to help with my income. I also just sent out a resume to a shelter here in Cincinnati for a case-worker position that a friend recommended. If either or both of these turned into an actual opportunity, I would be very thankful.


Monday, February 23, 2009

Well Said, Eleanor Clift.

Here is the antidote to Rick Santelli's rant.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Lenten Fast

Three years ago, I did my first extended fast. I started on Ash Wednesday and went 25 days before breaking it. I had hoped to make it through Lent, but all of the literature I had read emphasized the need to pay attention to your body, and listen for when it is done fasting, not when the calendar says you should be done.

Why am I telling you this? Well, I am about to do it again. When I finished I had decided that in future years I would play it by ear, and not assume that I should fast just because that was what you should do at Lent. The following two years did not present themselves as time when fasting was either a)feasible, or b)necessary.

This year however, I am feeling the same stirring upon my heart that I did in 2006. I do believe it is the Holy Spirit tugging at me, nudging me to attempt another fast. And when I sit back, I realize that spiritually, it really might just be the time again.

And this is why I am telling you. Not because I feel the need to shout my spiritual journey in the far reaches of the internet, but because judging by the traffic this blog gets, if you are reading this, you probably know me. And because of that, I am here to ask for your support through prayer.

First some notes on how the fast will work, and then some specific requests for prayer.

The last time I fasted, I tried a variety of concoctions within my first week that just didn't suit me. The famous cayenne/maplesyrup/water/lemon drink is as nasty as it sounds. So is the reality of blending green veggies in an attempt to get juice from them. I found myself never far from a water bottle full of cool water, and I also relied mostly upon pineapple, apple and cranberry juices. Occasionally I ventured out into other ones, but that was the majority of my intake.

So, this time around, I will start with what works. In the last year however, I have become quite the fan of teas and tisanes. I am most likely going to work in the occasional cuppa into my diet, but I am not sure what kind and how much.

Also, I will be seeking a good multi-vitamins to supplement my diet.

While the physical end of a fast is not the reason or motivation anyone should use for a fast, it is something to be addressed, and since I have done this once before, I will be able to gauge myself better this time around.

*What this fast is not*

1. An attempt at weight loss. Going into it last time, I knew that while I would lose a lot of weight, the chances of that weight staying off were very slim thanks to the way our metabolism works. I lost 30-35 pounds last time, and did keep it off for a couple of months, but then I started gaining back when my old eating habits returned and my exercising routine diminished.

2. A way to save money. I was surprised at how much it actually cost me last time around. It was about on par with my normal grocery bill, but with juice and whatnot.

3. A reason for people to apologize for eating in front of me. I am well aware of the fact that humans normally eat to make it through their day and so you should feel free to eat away! It is really quite surpriseing how the huger pangs start to disappear after the first week!

Now on to the prayer.

I have three specific prayer goals for this fast.

1. That this would be a time of repentance, renewal and even rejoicing.

2. That God will meet me in this time, and show his grace to me.

3. That it also be a time of faithful petition, specifically for the Lord's favor in my ongoing job/career journey. Both that I accept what he has given me thus far, but also that he would hear my cries for a job that fits my calling to serve him and his church. Even more specifically (if prayer can't be specific, what can?), that he would help me understand both my desire to work inside the church, and my desire to be a teacher, and then show the path to make one or both of those come to fruition.

(while the third goal contains many more words, the first two take primacy)

Logistically, my first 24 hours of the fast were the most excruciating and full of temptation the last time around, so if you were going to choose one day to pray- that would be it!

In the end, i still have some of the details to figure out, But hopefully this time next week I will be pushing on through the first night of Lent like a trooper!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

The Origin of Gandalf

According to the Humphrey Carpenter bio of Tolkien, Tolkien wrote on the back of a postcard from Switzerland that this was the 'Origin of Gandalf'. The painting is by the German artist J. Madlener and is called Der Berggeist.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Colbert pulls a Bale on Martin

Some quick thoughts/questions on last night's LOST [Spoilers]


We all knew Jin was alive, but it still makes me mad that we are supposed to believe he survived that large of an explosion with only a sunburn.

This season really feels like one would expect a final season to be building up. I hope this means that the final season really goes in some crazy directions.

I quite enjoyed the Kate/Claire/Sawyer scene, and seeing the hatch-light. Although- I am surprised that Locke was so ambivalent towards the hatch-light if he still feels like he is being moved along in some greater purpose.


Is Miles the baby from the beginning of the season premier?

Will they time-hop to the time of the foot statue?

Why hasn't Faraday mentioned anything about constants to the nose-bleeders- is it just too-late for them to have one?

Could this time-hopping have any relation to how some (Christian Shepherd, Claire, Eko's brother) have appeared seemingly after their death?

How far ahead of everybody is Ben? Is he truly humbled by the crazy lady with the chalkboards or is he playing her as well?

Monday, February 02, 2009

2009 Tolkien Readstravaganza: The History of Middle-Earth Vol. IX: The End of the Third Age (ish)

The final volume of the History of Middle-Earth to focus on The Lord of the Rings is The End of the Third Age and/or Sauron Defeated. The difference between these two books is that Sauron Defeated includes the contents of The End of the Third Age as well as some other writings, not directly related to The Lord of the Rings. Christopher Tolkien's original intent was to have only three volums focus on LOTR, but in the end he had too much to fit and so we have this fourth volume.

Here wee see that the climax of the novels is reached and then the following celebration and journey home are traced all the way to the Grey Havens and beyond. One thing which is absent is any study of how Tlkien developed the appendices. According to a note in front of the book, this is covered in Volume XII: The People's of Middle-Earth.

As far as the climax goes, Tolkien fiddled with a few variations of how the ring ultimately ended up in the fire. At one point Sam tackles Gollum and tumbles into the crack with him!

The Scouring of the Shire went through a few major changes. One of the biggest was that Saruman was only thought to have a hand in things from a distance, and only near the end of everything did he become Sharkey. All throughout the writing process from the overthrowing of Isengard, Tolkien had considered what to do with him, including the possibility of a full redemption at one point I think.

What really hit me with this volume though, was the final epilogue. Once Sam returned home and said "Well, I'm back." Tolkien intended to have one final chapter to wrap things up further. There are two variants of this epilogue. The first has Sam surrounded by all of his children and lets the secret of an upcoming visit from the King slip out. The second has him only with his eldest daughter, Eleanor. Both of them bring about the same information, just in their respective situations. In the end he was persuaded by others that no epilogue was necessary and that it hurt more than it helped. I am inclined to disagree. I found that I enjoyed it very much and the same teary eyed response I have to the official ending of the book, greeted me here as well. The one consolation is that all of the main information that comes from the epilogue can be found in The Tale of Years found in the appendices of The Return of the King.

So, this also marks the end of the first chunk of reading I have set out before me. The official page count is at 1636/9953. The total number could still rise as May is bringing us yet another new Tolkien book. The Legend of Sigurd and GudrĂșn is not Middle-Earth related, but it will make a fine addition to my growing collection.

For now, however, I will be turning my attention to the Humphrey Carpenter's J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography, as well as The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien. My plan is to read them together. As I read through one section of his life, I can then go and read the letters he wrote during the same time period. I am excited to finally be delving into more about the Man himself, as up till now I have generally only ever focused on his works.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

2009 Tolkien Readstravaganza: The History of Middle-Earth Vol. VIII: TheWar of the Ring

The next volume of the History of Middle-Earth dealing with The Lord of The Rings is The War of the Ring. Following the same pattern as the last two volumes, this one takes us from the Battle at Helm's Deep nearly all the way to the end. It leaves us hanging right as the forces of Middle-Earth assemble outside of the Black Gate of Mordor.

One of the most striking things to me of the whole book was the relationship between Denathor and Faramir. In the final text, Denathor shows so much disdain for the choices of Faramir (before loosing it completely and then showing some actual affection towards his injured son while attempting to burn him alive- you know paternal love at its height!). At first however, it seemed that Tolkien wanted to have Denathor be a lot more sympathetic towards Faramir. Actually, in general, the initial picture we get of Denathor from this, is a much less disturbing one. I think that once Tolkien moved in the direction of the flaming suicide he started to consider Denathor as a much more volatile character. Another example of this is in how Denathor originally knew that Aragorn was returning as the King. Whereas in the LOTR, Denathor chooses death out of despair, and seeing the corsair ships coming was one thing which tipped him over into crazyland, in these texts, he was initially driven to suicide as the alternative to relinquishing his power as the Steward of Gondor.

Another point of interest are the various sketches of Minas Tirith and Orthanc. While Minas Tirith comes across pretty much as the final description, Orthanc went through a variety of forms before the one we find in the LOTR. The story of Gandalf's capture had been settled upon long ago though, so all of them do share the tapering tower topped off by a small platform.

Overall, this volume also was without a lot of shock or surprising developments. There were of course many differences with the final text, but not many that would reshape the writing process as dramatically as the ones in volume VI.

Why I Love Monty Python

Don't Mess with Buffalo, even if you are Lions.

This seems to be a couple of years old, but it is the first time I have seen it. The buffalo definitely prove there is strength in numbers. You don't really see a whole lot up close, but be aware that it is animals fighting so if that bothers you- don't hit play.