Thursday, September 25, 2014

Apostles of ego, Disciples of deception

"Allah told me to do it!"
"God is on our side!"
"For Allah and his people!"
"For God and country"
"Convert or die!"

Those who make war
in the name of their Deity
– not their Holy One –
but themselves!
These "faithful followers"
are led by human desires,
not the will of an Ultimate Truth
whose nature is
creativity and goodness!

Any God, Allah, or YHWH
small enough to be confined
to human understanding
is too limited to deserve
our respect or our worship!

Those who burn, destroy, terrorize, bomb or kill fellow humans
in the name of their Transcendent Deity
deceive themselves.
Their devotion is not to any Deity
but to power, dominance, control, and conformity
to their own standards.

These disciples of deception
– attempting to expand their faith –
succeed only in spreading hatred,
bruising the image of their YHWH, God, or Allah,
killing Truth,
and disfiguring the beauty
of the Truth-Giver.

Child-raising advice?

"Train up a child in the way he should go," says the Good Book, "and when he is old he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).  King Solomon is credited with writing most of the book of Proverbs and he is renowned in the scriptures as a man of great wisdom.  That’s probably why he stayed silent on what can happen to that "bundle of joy" between childhood and old age!

Solomon left us no wise words on the "wild oats" a child – even a well-raised child – can sow between the ages of ten and one hundred and ten.  He doesn’t mention playing hooky from school, fist fights, scrapes with the law, substance abuse, traffic accidents, or time behind bars.  Solomon wisely keeps silent on problems such as multiple sexual affairs (perhaps as King he thought that was normal!), serial divorces, custody battles, or contested wills.  He makes no mention of ruptured relationships, disastrous career or financial choices, or affiliation with the "wrong" crowd or political party.

No, Solomon’s proverbial wisdom speaks not a word on these child-raising realities!  He only holds out to us parents the distant hope that "when [the child] is old he[she] will return" to the good precepts taught when young.  Will we parents – prematurely aging because of our offspring’s follies – live long enough to see that child return to civility and good conduct?

But, then, with 700 wives and 300 concubines, Solomon probably considered child-raising to be "women’s work."  So he really had very little experience in that field. And with no Dr. Spock to refer to for advice, he didn’t really know what he was talking about!

But really, why should we take child-raising advice from a leader who overtaxed his people, enslaved them to build his great monuments, and led his nation astray by trying to appease his many foreign wives?  His son, who succeeded him on the throne, was rejected by the people due to his brutality and it split the nation apart!

I think I’ll look elsewhere for child-raising advice!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Nearly Ten Years Later at DeGray Lake State Park

During the winter of 2004-2005 we took an eight-week trip in an older motor home to help us decide whether we wanted to sell our house in Ohio and live full-time in a recreational vehicle.  Within the first couple of weeks of that trip we decided that yes, we did want to live full-time in a recreational vehicle, but not in that motor home because it was too limited in interior space.  One of the memories from that trip is a visit to DeGray Lake Resort State Park in Arkansas.  Less than a month after the photo below was taken we had purchased the New Horizons fifth-wheel trailer that has been our home for nearly ten years.

January 29, 2005
Yesterday we were back at DeGray Lake State Park and although we did not get a waterfront site, we were just across from that site we had enjoyed so much nearly ten years ago.
September 13, 2014
During our lengthy walks ten years ago we were fascinated by the tree pictured below.   It is located near the swimming beach in a day use area.   We had to wonder how the tree came to be formed as it is.
January 29, 2005
Of course, on our return trip we made a special point of taking the two-mile plus walk to see if we could find the tree again.   Sure enough,  it is still there!
September 13, 2014
And so are we!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Tom Sawyer's RV Park

This evening we are back at a campground where we have enjoyed staying several times in the past.   Tom Sawyer's RV Park in West Memphis, Arkansas, is located right on the edge of the Mississippi River.   In fact, one must cross the levee in order to get here.  And, yes, it does flood sometimes -- especially in the spring of the year.

The Mississippi River is visible beyond the next row of RVs behind our trailer.  The waterfront sites had all been reserved by the time we arrived, so we are in the second row from the water.
As we went for our afternoon walk we wandered right along the edge of the Mississippi River.

There are many splendid views of the Mississippi River from the campground.  Whether one takes lengthy walks or sits on one of the waterfront benches there is much to see along the river.

We lost count of the barges and tugs that came past -- 24 hours a day.  The close-up below is of the tug pushing the twenty barges tied together in the photo above. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Ferne Clyffe State Park

During our travels from Ohio toward Texas we spent some time at Ferne Clyffe State Park on 2,430 acres in Johnson County, Illinois.  Located near Goreville and close to both I-24 and I-57, the park features numerous dramatic bluffs and several seasonal waterfalls fed from runoff from the upper bluffs.

On our first evening after dinner we hiked to the Ferne Clyffe Lake created in the late 1950s by an earthen dam across the Buck Branch Creek.

The next morning we took an easy hike up the Big Rocky Hollow Trail to one of the waterfalls.  The trail followed a dry creek bed through the hollow with tall bluffs on both sides.

When we reached the waterfalls we found it to be dry, but then we remembered that the falls here are seasonal and there had been no rain recently.   Still it was an enjoyable hike.

There are so many beautiful locations along our journeys and we delight in finding new discoveries.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Grace Strip

High speed highways these days are designed and built with a narrow corrugated strip of pavementy outside the driving lane. It’s sometimes called "the rumble strip" because that’s what it sounds like when a distracted driver allows her vehicle to veer off the roadway. It’s also sometimes called "the wake up strip" to describe its effect upon a dozing driver who lets his car drift across that built-in noisemaker.

In some states, that teeth-chattering strip is immediately outside the white line marking the outside of the driving lane. Other states leave a narrow area of smooth pavement between the white line and that jarring strip of corduroy asphalt.

After many years of drifting back and forth across the painted outer limit of the driving lane, I have come to call that small smooth area outside the white line "the grace strip." Without that strip of "grace," I am immediately "punished" for my "sin" of inaccurate steering by the raucous noise and unsettling vibrations of that hidden highway "hell." That little "grace strip," on the other hand, gives me time to "repent" of my "sins" and correct my course before the "punishment" of the rumble strip sets my nerves on edge and distracts me even worse!

Thank God for grace – on the highway, and all along my pathway through life! 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Dinner with History

Last Sunday, we went to Stockport Mill Inn and Restaurant in Stockport, Ohio.

Stockport is located on the western bank of the Muskingum River, a 45 minute drive over beautiful Ohio-Appalachia hills from our son's house near Athens.  We were about 175 years too late to see the little town in its glory days.  But the Stockport Mill still stands beside the dam that held the water which turned the mill wheels to grind flour.  That same water power turned the turbines to produce electricity for the community.  The Stockport Mill also served as a safe place on the Underground Railroad which ran along the banks of the Muskingum for nearly 25 miles.
But those days are long gone now, lost in the mists of history.  The Stockport Mill ceased its milling operations in 1997, but the huge, four story building has not been left empty to grieve that loss.  In the recent past, the building has been converted into a hotel and restaurant.  Their Sunday noon buffet is varied and out-of-this-world delicious!  The hotel has only eleven large rooms, but each is equipped with a spa or hot tub.  The d├ęcor of the place is utterly antique with the furniture tastefully arranged around many pieces of the original milling equipment which have been left in place.
Across the river, another piece of Stockport's history has been kept alive and active.
Long before the invention of the automobile or the construction of all-weather roads, the river was the main highway for those towns fortunate enough to be located on its banks.  The dam which ran the mill on the western bank of the river made it necessary to construct a lock on the eastern bank so ship traffic could continue on their way from Zanesville to Marietta.
That lock has been preserved, still operates, and is available for use by boat traffic up and down the river.
The lock tender, seen here talking with our son, was a knowledgeable and genial man.  He explained to us how the lock works and it was obvious to us that the tender, who both closes and opens the lock for river traffic, would have to be as big and strong as he appears to be!
In the 1840s, when river traffic was at its height, one of the most successful river pilots was a woman named Jane McMillan.  She was called "Old Jane" and she was reported to have known the river so well that she could navigate it safely even at night! 

So, stuffed with good food and several fascinating history lessons, we headed home, once again winding our way through those scenic hills and valleys of southeastern Ohio.