Friday, January 30, 2009

Scarves, Bows, and Sashes

Here's the *before* photo and a couple of questions.

Can you tie a square knot?

Is there any purple in your closet?

Will you wear a scarf today?

Yesterday a blogger friend, Donna at Quiet Life, posted a link for scarf-tying techniques. I thought it was helpful and I want to remember the site. So please meet *BigMama* who isnt so *big* :)

Here's my after photo, but you cant really see my square knot.

But I can do it.

Everyone always asks me to tie their sashes, bows, and scarves.... even ties.

And no, I didnt learn it in Girl Scouts.

My mother taught me.

Right over left, and left over right.

Try it.

Here's a link to see what the knot should look like

Here's another link - for tying lighter weight scarves at Brooks Brothers.

Or perhaps you're good at tying men's ties.

Here's a picture of the one most recently given to DH.

More about that handsome pattern here.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Better to Receive

Opening the proverbial can of worms, author Ken Myers addresses the invasion of popular culture on the liturgy of the church on pg 99, of Chapter Six in All God's Children & Blue Suede Shoes.

Oh, no!

Here not only do we go a meddlin' but we've flat out stepped on peoples toes... hard! The particular example concerns whether a particular song sung solo during worship was true, lovely, noble, or admirable.

Surely you can recall such an incident.

Acutally I thought we might avoid this type of controversy when the basis for the chapter was the analysis of C S Lewis's 1961 essay An Experiment in Criticism (mainly addressing books and reading), but Myers rightly extrapolates the argument into the church. I mean how can we ignore the Author of the reality to be grasped. So, even though Myers adeptly explains the factors Lewis proposed for evaluating books, music, art, etc, they can also be used within the sanctuary. In fact, it's a really good way to decide how and what to read, listen to, or regard.

But that issue of subjectivism has raised its ugly head. Never mind the opinion of the worship committee! Those are matters of taste; or "One man's kitsch is another man's art.*

And propriety?

How dare I suggest that such was not appropriate!

Why, I'm the one accused of rudeness for even pointing that out. Read Lynn Truss.

Yup. That's the triumph of the pervasiveness of popular culture, all those preconceived notions about what is proper, what is good, what is bad - they're now null and void.

Furthermore, that social egotism which runs rampant with this type of thinking?

That is exactly what is totally offensive to me. And I think God is offended ... first! Rightly spoken, I am offended for Him, for His Honor, for His Name. I am called to defend Him.

One of the ways I can do that is to be a *docent of glory* Here's a link to what I'm talking about. It also contains a reference to T M Moore's thought provoking article Can I Get a Witness.

But I'm digressing.

Our culture is sick on a number of fronts: high, low, folk, or popular. Take your pick. That is not to say every one or all persons involved are. Just generally speaking :)

Myers implies that it's a reflection of our spiritual health. I agree.

It probably starts with what we're reading.

Learn more about it at DominionFamily where our online book club discussion is taking place.

Update: 1/30/09 entry at my Xanga site addressing paintings in particular.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Peachy Tulips

In honor of Calvin's 500th birthday (July 10, 2009)I am reading his Institutes online with the help of Princeton Theological Seminary. Here's the link. Each morning, I follow along with the audio rendition. Addressing both the the eyes and the ears creates a better atmosphere for understanding. I recommend it.

But his birthday makes me remember other things about Calvin which I intend to detail throughout the year.

The first is an acrostic that many associate with a summarizing of Christian doctrine, exemplified in Calvin's systematization.

It's T-U-L-I=P

T=total depravity
U=unconditional surrender
L=limited atonement
I=irresistible grace
P=perseverance of the saints

In Southern this becomes P-E-A-C-H

P=pervasive perversity
E=election, external and eternal
A=atonement, limited by design
C=calling, effectual
H=heavenly home held by heavenly hands

Have you heard of this before?

How does it strike you?

Which letter was most difficult for you to accept.

For me, it was the *limited atonement* issue.

The one which just melts my heart?

Irresistible grace.

Who can resist the Lord God Almighty?

Today I am pleased to understand these doctrines because the Lord shed His Light on my heart and made my blind eyes see and my deaf ears hear.

May you be so blessed.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Fashion on Friday

Brown is a favorite color of mine, much preferred over black.

But the main point of this photo is the tights.

They're brown, too.

My girls may think I'm dorky.

But I like wearing tights, panty hose, or socks and am appalled at the new trend to go without.

I've done it, but I dont like it.

Thank goodness First Lady Obama wore panty hose at Tuesday's Inauguration Ceremony. It affords a more polished appearance. However, I wondered if her feet hurt at the end of that day? Those green heels were 3 inches!

How do you feel about stocking/panty hose/tights?

I dont, however, own any Spanx.

Even if I am a native Atlantan.

Do you?

Original Footless Pantyhose from Spanx: In 1988, Sara Blakely cut the feet off her pantyhose so she could get the benefits of shaping and an invisible panty line under slacks while wearing sandals. Two years later, the Atlanta resident introduced a comfortable, body-slimming, toeless garment to the market. The line now consists of over 100 figure-enhancing garments

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Accounting for Taste

Gone to meddlin' some might say when Ken Myers broaches the subject of preferences (either music or cannibalism!) on page 77 of All God's Children and Blue Suede Shoes and proves that matters of taste are not wholly private and personal.

The author had already begun to draw the line in the sand on page 76 by suggesting that if a particular culture form encourages the sort of individualism that presupposes that one has to discover who s/he is independent of family and community then there is a problem.


Here's the reason we mothers (who have no taste and wore short shorts - giggle) are reading this book:

What should attract more attention is the effect of consistent exposure to
popular culture, whether or not the content is objectionable, on the internal
dispositions. The habits of mind, heart, and soul. In short the
qualities of character.


Aesthetic judgment is one way of determining merit or evaluating form, but is by its very nature more elusive than the scientific (quantitative or qualitative) method will allow. It requires patience, training, and a willingness to submit. Those are qualities that I'm sure all of us are striving to develop in our children, our charges.

Myers quotes a 1966 article addressing the aesthetics of popular art showing its limitations by contrast:
Great art reveals something about human nature because it is forced to
conform to created reality. It selects its material according to the
demands of the "Author of the reality to be grasped".

Now that's a new name for God, but I recognized Him.

He is our reference point.

In this same referenced article, it is argued that popular art cannot bear the sustained attention that high art can. We might remain well-acquainted with it, but the relationship is always superficial, never maturing into intimacy. pg 83

I appreciated the explanation surrounding celebrityism, another attribute of pop culture, and how TV talk shows play into this. And how sentimentality, another attribute, and its lack of sincerity permeates the atmosphere even into evangelicalism.

Myers just explains a lot.

He challenges my sympathies.

Because I watch television, listen to music, surf the world wide web, and enjoy fashion.

But because I think my life is characterized by a rootedness in objective reality, the subjectivism of popular culture is impotent for me.

Or is it?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Popular Culture and the Restless Ones

Dictionary definitions and scholarly quotes abound in chapter four of AGC&BSS, as Ken Myers establishes the framework of culture: its origin, nature, and attributes. He particularly addresses the causative agents and does not overlook the responses (manners and social habits) of those affected by these new social forces.

There was so much to digest that I was tempted to make a vocabulary list in order to remember all the people, places and things he mentioned. I still dont know what the old SCTV troupe is. (pg 63)

At any rate, I am a little perplexed with the idea that popular culture (per se) is new. I mean there has always been culture and there has always been a populace. Also, if the main question for addressing the liabilities of popular culture is how to spend one's time, then we all know that that question is as old as the hills. (pg 55)

In fact, I think that in the chapter's title, Myers is referring to someone as old as the hills: Augustine of Hippo (4th cent). That creature of popular culture who goofed off (pear tree incident) and wasted time (debauchery) until he was almost thirty years old. Remember his poem where the final line is -

Our hearts are restless, O Lord, until they rest in you

Fast forward to the 16th century and meet the French skeptic, Montaigne, who agonized over people not paying enough time to God and worried that *variety always solaces, dissolves, and scatters. He's talking about distractions (in the culture) here.

Blaise Pascal (also French) in the 17th century identifies the same restlessness and blames it on the lack of religion in the culture. So, when Myers promotes the television as the modern entertainment appliance unlike any other, I just dont buy its uniqueness. I dont know what were the previous artifacts in the earlier centuries that distracted the populace, but I'm willing to bet there was something.

I suppose, however, that in the chapter title Myers could have been referring to the 1965 Christian film entitled Restless Ones

or the '80s rock band, Bad English, which had a song called The Restless Ones.

But I'm thinking restless means *without or apart from God* and am going with the Augustine reference.

What do you think?

Back to the issue at hand and the after-effects of the big, bad Industrial Revolution (18th - 19th cent) which allowed for unprecedented discretionary time and income, which in turn *forced* people to look for ways to relieve boredom.

Okay, I'll go along with the idea here that *empty people search for fulfilment in all the wrong places*.

Jump into the 20th century where Myers asserts that popular culture (over and above high and folk cultures) has been a more dominant force in the past 25 years (1963-1988), a veritable valium of the masses. He suggests that the search for diversion (recreation) has become more and more desperate and requires greater and greater levels of stimulation.

I concur.

In fact, the phrase *I'm bored* is one of my pet peeves.

So, I re-read the chapter in order to solidify my understanding of this quest for novelty and instant gratification. I think my upbringing provided me with a built-in line-of-defense for avoiding some of these negative manners and habits, but the best mode of maintaining my preference for the permanent things (Eliot/Lewis/Kirk) is teaching my children (or others). I never bought into the liberal parenting technique that they had the right to choose. (pg 69)

Ask them if we had a television and how we used it.

Or what radio station we listened to in the car.

Ah, what about the Internet, Cindy asks?

Yes, as early as 1990, we had dial-up (they were too young to use it then). Then we signed up for high-speed (maybe 2004), but with parental controls and guidelines on a desktop computer in a family-room-type study for educational purposes. Yeah, right!? (grin) Above all it was made clear that these appliances were luxuries, not necessities; tools, not gods (icons).

High-speed access fits right in with the final pages of the 20-page chapter in which Myers addresses our impatience. I confess I kept counting to see how many more pages I had to read.

Does instant access to information on the world-wide web contribute negatively to pop culture?

It makes me wonder how people felt about the phonebook or the Yellow Pages when they were first published? Was it too much information about a person or a business to make available to the masses? Wouldnt the details be used improperly? To borrow a phrase from a Facebook friend, were the Yellow Pages comparable to Faceplanting?

This entry is far too long for me to expect that anyone would read it in its entirety. But that's okay.

I'm not restless.

I'm not seeking instant gratification in the form of lots of comments.

I'm seeking wisdom.

I'm not primitive. That's why I own a computer.

I live in a time and place where God has placed me to serve Him.

Oh Lord, make me ever mindful of Your presence.

Monday, January 19, 2009

MLK Day and Mass Age

This particular Monday in January always makes me pause and reflect. I can remember being in the elevator in the Canon House Office Building with LPMcD, my boss and representative of the 7th District of Georgia. He was waxing eloquent about Newt Gingrich's first vote as a new member of the House (1979): one in favor of establishing this federal holiday.

It also makes me want to re-read the speech that accompanies Dr King's famous line *I have a dream*.

It makes me want to search Scripture and wonder to which chapter and verse Dr King was referring. Was it in Jeremiah?

Jeremiah 23
"I have heard what the prophets say who prophesy lies
in my name. They say, 'I had a dream! I had a dream!'
How long will
this continue in the hearts of these lying prophets, who prophesy the delusions
of their own minds?
They think the dreams they tell one another will
make my people forget my name, just as their fathers forgot my name through Baal
Let the prophet who has a dream tell his dream, but let the
one who has my word speak it faithfully. For what has straw to do with grain?"
declares the Lord.
"Is not my word like fire," declares the Lord, "and
like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?
"Therefore," declares the
Lord, "I am against the prophets who steal from one another words supposedly
from me.
Yes," declares the Lord, "I am against the prophets who wag
their own tongues and yet declare, 'The LORD declares.'
Indeed, I am
against those who prophesy false dreams," declares the Lord. "They tell them and
lead my people astray with their reckless lies, yet I did not send or appoint
them. They do not benefit these people in the least," declares the Lord.

It makes me really appreciate Blogger, a new cultural form, which has helped me keep track of my thoughts. Here's a link to a previous MLK Day entry.

Here's a link to some of my thoughts on integration.

Here's a link to how Alveda King, MLK's niece, thinks the dream incomplete. Do you know how your Senator or Representative feel about the Freedom of Choice Act.

And so, with respect to my current online book club where we are reading about Pop Culture (is there a war?), I wonder if the important focus is the message (mass age) or the medium on this holiday?

What do you think?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Fashion on Fridays

Sometimes on Fridays, I like to highlight my fashion. Nothing truly fantastic or trendy. Just a little creative comment: a challenge to find something in the back of my closet and update it inexpensively; or mention a new purchase.

This week I'd really like to talk about what Michelle Obama will be wearing to the Inaugural Ball.

I thought she looked lovely in this turquoise dress and brooch she wore during the campaign.

First ladies can really take a beating from the media if they're not careful with choices.

Surely Michelle wont copy Mary Todd Lincoln the way her husband is borrowing Abe's Bible.

What I'm really trying to do is bury a picture of my 1970s fashion. In the comment section of this Dominion Family entry about Pop Culture, there was a dare to post pictures of *short shorts*.

Here I am...1976 or '77

Oh, my!

Bonus for reading to the end :)

Four fashion trends that should be nuked.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Would You Take Jesus to See This Planet?
Chapter Three, All God's Children and Blue Suede Shoes

Yes, but he might chuckle after the tour, knowing that much had been overlooked. In fact, I might not make such a good docent. After all I hardly *know* all God's children AND I told you that I'd never heard about Carl Perkins's song about blue suede shoes.

Am I fit to show Jesus around?

Myers says *yes*.

That God offered me cultural assistance when he clothed Adam and Eve. pg44

But because God recreated me and empowers me to walk His Way, I am separated from some parts of my culture. There are limits to what I can do because I'm not the only one here. pg 50

And while Christians are called to go out into every culture, I am placed in time and space to create that holy pattern in my garden (household). I love His Order. I am charged to influence my culture and to make it more consistent with the created nature; to sanctify my own life. pg 51

So, Jesus.

Come on over.

I'll show You around.

I'm not ashamed.

West of Eden by Renee Radell
Oil on Linen 72" x 66"

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

What is Culture, that Thou Art Mindful of It?

Foundational questions and principles as solid as the Corinthian pillar pictured in this caricature are covered in the second chapter of Ken Myer's book, All God's Children and Blue Suede Shoes.

The author wastes no time getting to meat (1 Cor 10:23-26) of the issue in the title alone.

The chapter's title is a play on Psalm 8:4 where David is lauding the majesty of God and wondering why an awesome creator would contemplate a lowly creature.

The implication is that we humans think so highly of ourselves and our possessions that we're not aware of our surroundings (culture) - popular or unpopular, high brow or low.

Perhaps it would be premature for me at this point to claim that I am mindful. I am aware. I am not indifferent.

After all I am reading about it. That means I care, right?


I cannot bear to contemplate such cultural icons as Michael Jackson or Madonna. Or listen to their music.

Thankfully though, neither do I identify with the fiddler in this caricature. But Myers does force me to examine my own outlook by presenting the cultural apologies of such fine thinkers as C.S. Lewis, T.S. Eliot, Fredrich Hayek, and Derek Kidner.

Easily the author assesses the nature of culture by examining its religious base, its relativism, and its context. He does not overlook that it should be measured by Biblical standards and that it cannot be socially engineered. This is valuable reference material.

I wonder though?

Did I accept his arguments too quickly?


But I know why.

By the grace of God He quickened my spirit and ignited my imagination: that realm of human experience that exists prior to that lower power which drives social critics.

Furthermore, I concur with Myers I need teachers and the fellowship of the saints , i.e. the local church because

applying Scripture to our individual experience is difficult for each of us,
often as much because we fail to understand the significance of our own
situations, the context in which we are applying it, because we fail to
understand the original, objective meaning of the text. pg 33

And so, I read and think (wisdom calls me to). I consider the rewarding task of taking dominion as described by my favorite apologist, Russell Kirk.

A culture is perennially in need of renewal.

A culture does not survive and prosper merely by being taken for granted;
active defense is always required, and imaginative growth, too.

Meet my contributions to the future of our culture.

GMVP = God's Most Valuable Players, nurtured in the admonition of the Lord to love and serve Him as strong leaders in the 21st century.

Veritable roses, don't ya think?

It's amazing how much cultivation roses take in order to bloom.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

All God's Children and Blue Suede Shoes
Chapter One

My PCQ (popular culture quotient) was less than ten, so Mr. Myers labels me as *semimonastic*, thinking that I probably dont need to read his book.

But I am surrounded in my immediate family and with others (aka *the world*) who find the conduits of popular culture and its content far more entertaining than I.

Therefore, I cannot helped but be influenced.

The pervasiveness of the *noise* compels me to investigate the assaults on my senses (and those of my children).

The author set out to understand popular culture and not condemn it, so that he could be more obedient to God and glorify Him appropriately in everyday living.

That's enough to convince me to keep reading.

Interestingly enough, Myers does not believe that much would be improved in our society even if Christians somehow could take over all the instruments and forms of popular culture.

That's makes me want to skip to the last chapter.

But I wont.

I know that our culture has been conquered by King Jesus and that the King of Rock 'n Roll is only an icon....even if his birthday is January 8th (many are already celebrating including Gov Huckabee).

Chapter One starts out with an interesting example of a fellow who moves to a new city because he has a job there. However, the atmosphere (culture) of the new environs are so base that it destroys him and his family. I had never thought of Lot in that way, especially not as a righteous man.

Myers made me remember the good advice given to us in pre-marital counseling: always assess the possibilities for your church home when evaluating a move to a new locale. There is no substitute for the weekly hearing of the faithful preaching of God's Word because it constrains the Monday-through-Friday activities.

At this point, the author designates television and rock and roll music as the two basic forms by which popular culture is influenced. I think that is still true today, twenty years after the first publication of the book. Even though Myers tries to eschew the discussing of the content (of pop culture) in favor of the sensibilities, in reality, the two cannot be separated.

I maintain that it's not the instrument that is evil per se; it's the heart of man (Mark 7:15).

But do I regard my culture as an enemy? including TVs, XM Radio, Wiis, and Ipods?

You betcha!

And the best way to capture the enemy?

To know his ways.

However, Myers reminds us that

Popular culture is not a simple, homogenous abstraction that allows for simple
application of Biblical principles. Its challenges and temptations do not
confront us like the proverbial harlot whose seductions are clearly to
sin. It has many dimensions and contours and hidden agendas that require
some historical and experiential perspectives before we can evaluate it fairly
and, having understood it, conduct ourselves in its presence with wisdom.


That's what I want to do:

Conduct myself with wisdom.

Monday, January 05, 2009

All God's Children and Blue Suede Shoes

Basically aware of the book since its publication in 1989, I've never taken the time to read it. But now that Cindy at Dominion Family is hostessing an online book club, I decided to sign up.

I am committed to reading, thinking, and learning about popular culture.

The official start date is Wednesday, January 7, 2009; and I have resisted reading the book since the announcement of the club in December. But today I felt compelled to get oriented.

Besides holding and flipping through the book (tactile learner?), I've contemplated the Title, read the Dedication, glimpsed at the Table of Contents, overlooked the Acknowledgements, perused the Bibliography, waited on the End Notes, reveled in the Index, enjoyed the Introduction, and made notes through the First Chapter.

At this point, I must confess that I feel woefully ignorant, inadequate, and just plain dense. There may be something lacking in my education or family upbringing (gene pool), but I just dont retain much information about popular culture: music, movies, games. DH is the guru in our family.

Furthermore, to prove that statement, I will admit publicallly that I had NO CLUE about the reference for the Blue Suede Shoes.

My daughters wear blue suede shoes.

I think they're pretty.

But something told me that was not what Ken Myers was talking about.

So, I googled.

I met Carl Perkins at Wikipedia.

I listened to THE song on an Australian Elvis Presley Fan Club site.

I requested a CD of Rockabilly songs from the library.

Basically I got a grip on the situation.

Here's a picture of the shoes that may have inspired the lyrics to the song.

Should be interesting.

Hope you'll join us.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year!!

Collard Greens


Black-eyed Peas

are cooking on the stove in preparation for our traditional dinner. Sweet potatoes are baking in the bottom oven, while a fresh ham has been roasting S.L.O.W.L.Y. in the top one since yesterday.

All the Christmas decorations are put away.

January first is a good day for rest, relaxation, and reflection.

And maybe a little football.

Watching, not playing :)