Re-arrange…

Life is certainly in a state of transition at the moment. Perhaps transition is a reality for most people most of the time.

I am sitting in a small office surrounded by stuff. A substantial amount belongs to me. Thankfully, not all of it is mine. As the future slowly takes a more concrete shape I must evaluate the best use of time. In a small notebook I already wrote two lists of goals for the coming months. After looking back at them yesterday I still feel those goals generally provide the best direction with the possible addition of one or two more tasks.

One thing I must attend to is the organization of the stuff in this small office. Probably quite a few items can find their way to the trash. However, I want to look closely before I start discarding at random. I possess a variety of a discs and papers that I hope to store digitally so that I can dispose of the physical media. Honestly, all of this feels daunting.

My wife knows that I am a closet hoarder – a hoarder in waiting. All I need is ample space to really get going. One excuse which I allow to block the efforts of organizing is the mysterious hope of a space where I can simply pile this stuff. I know in my head that no reason exists to perpetually keep all of these items. Yet, I procrastinate.

I am actually slightly excited for this process for one reason: At times I feel that having this stuff is a weight and I will be glad to remove some of that annoyance.

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They say…

to practice.

My interest in writing, which I have held for quite some time continues to grow. Yet, I make little time to write beyond my chaotic journaling. I pay little attention to formatting and any organized sequence of thoughts in those moments. Writing so that others might read the text probably requires enough attention to avoid leaving the poor reader in tears.

I want to write in order to improve and when I really feel that I have something of worth to share my writing ability might stand at a level to best communicate what is on my mind. In the mean time I feel that I must simply write. That is my goal in beginning to write again on this blog.

Let the learning begin.

The Language Mess…

…isn’t all that bad.

For Christmas I received an intriguing book titled “What Language Is” by John McWhorter. I began reading this book a few days into the new year. The description sounded interesting when I first came across it some time last year which led me to request it for Christmas. So far I am enjoying reading it.

At the moment I can’t say that I have a full grasp on McWhorter’s point, but he provides some interesting perspectives backed by a number of fascinating facts. I plan to share more about this text after finishing my reading.

However, I want to highlight an aspect that quickly got my attention. McWhorter speaks a lot to the manner in which language “naturally” develops. I understand that a piece of his argument is that languages include a variety of unusual and specific parts simply because they can. He seems to say at times that we also should not fear the continued development of the English language. He clearly argues in the text that English is far from being a “normal” language. “Normal” languages are way more complicated.

As a linguist he appears to support the ongoing adjustment of language in a way that I imagine makes most grammar teachers shudder. Perhaps the internet and texting are not killing our language, but rather are lending to natural growth. I find that idea interesting.

“‘He’s all “I’m going to tell your mother” and she’s all “No you’re not”‘…” (pg. 90)
“Well, if English were allowed to morph on its merry way and embrace its irregularities rather than have them fumigated…” (pg. 91)

“Languages are messy – …What’s new in a language is neither a mistake nor subject, in a logical sense, to condemnation as unlikeable. It is inherent to languages to be always gradually becoming other ones…” (pg. 92)

A further art of what greatly excites me about this book is that he appears to treat pidgin and creole languages with respect rather than disdain. The more I encounter languages the more I enjoy such mixing of tongues. (I believe he designates a portion of his text to this in a later chapter. Of course I probably have much to learn about what pidgin even is.)

Several years ago while traveling in Hawai’i I came across the Hawai’i Pidgin New Testament. I bought it. In a heartbeat. What made it hard to read was that so many things seemed just like poorly spoken English. However, that is not the case. This is a thriving means of communication and it is amazing. It is always fun to open and read through that translation to see how ideas are represented in this pidgin. It is a beautiful thing that I am very thankful for. I feel that McWhorter’s arguments give flesh to feelings I’ve held in regards to pidgin. Maybe they aren’t regression, but in fact progression.

(I’m seeking to not mix my thoughts too much with McWhorter’s as well as not misrepresenting him. Sorry if I have. I also do not necessarily endorse the entirety of his book.)

Slow and Steady…

Two days in and I am at a loss already. What does one write about? Where are all of those creative ideas I had in the shower? Floating somewhere in the plumbing? Maybe they are already soaking up the sun high in the clouds, just waiting to plummet back to earth as little rain drops. Around here they might be the only thing seeing the sun. Lucky little ideas.

It is hard – for me – to write successively about one thing, or to break down a larger idea into a number of journal entries, or to write in detail on one topic. I find it difficult to really take my time working through one idea on paper. My writing comfort zone is in the sledgehammer approach. I will strike a large, one topic wall with vigor once or twice. When you arrive you see a wall with two large holes and a sledgehammer leaning against it. I’m not surprised you’re scratching your head.

Maybe I can learn to do some detail work and leave the wall prettier than when I found it. Thankfully I married a woman who loves details. I’m learning.

Potential irony: I updated my Nook to the most recent CM9 mod of ICS today. Then I began to read a recent introduction to Thoreau’s Walden on it.

I’m not quite sure yet how Thoreau would feel about that.

One thing that strikes me about Thoreau based on this introduction relates to my issue of being persistent in writing. Apparently Thoreau did not top any best seller lists during his lifetime. It seems that Thoreau was even pitied by his friends and colleagues as a sort of wandering soul who couldn’t quite put his life on track. He got famous later.

However, he wrote. He persisted in writing one little piece at a time. It is likely he was frustrated during the process at times. He wrote around eight drafts for one of his most well known works, “Walden”. I judge that takes some persistence to work through.

I don’t know much about Thoreau. I don’t know yet if I should like him or not. I’m interested in his little “experiment” at the cabin near Walden pond. That being said I sit here encouraged to continue to write. My blog. Ha!

I dream of being published one day. Sadly I don’t expect to ever complete the process of picking a single topic to write about. That slightly important first step. Do you know how many books are out there? Every concept I start to consider researching and writing about has been well written. Perhaps not always written well.

So, this post doesn’t have a major point. It is an exercise in writing. For me.

(Many thanks to fattire, dalingren, and Samiam303 for their great work on helping to bring ICS to the NC. Notes on Thoreau drawn from Jonathan Levin’s introduction to “Walden and Civil Disobedience”, Barnes & Noble Classics.)

Dinner Tonight…

On the rarest of occasion my wife requests that I start writing again. At least once a week. Or more.

So, I think about it from time to time. I write the posts in my head while searching for a good water temperature in the shower. Maybe it is my way of trying to process life. Sadly, my ideas usually wash down the drain amidst soapy water.

That being said, I want to start writing again. It is fun. I like to share information I’ve come across. I need a good place to confess that I am an information addict. I should look to see if there is a 12 step program for that. I think writing here is a good place for me to process. I often see benefit in writing out my thoughts. I don’t expect to really impact a lot of people’s lives, but I hope to pass along some things I find interesting.

And not edit myself out of writing by worrying that I might annoy somebody.

Oh, I finally came to terms with the fact that I’m socially awkward. That has been freeing.

I enjoy thinking about the categories of what I might enjoy writing about. God. Jesus. The Bible. History. Language. Food. Outdoors. Technology. The list goes on.

That leaves us here. Talking about dinner. Food is maybe one of the more fun things to write about. Considering I’m not a serious chef.

About two weeks ago my wife requested a peculiar birthday present. She wanted me to cook dinner for the week after her birthday. That sounded like a fun adventure. There was one small problem.

I don’t mind cooking at all. However, I have not cooked very much — shocker, I know. So, a few years ago when I tried to whip up something in the kitchen I find a comfort zone. Stir Fry. Throw meat and veggies into a pan with some oil then go to town. I’m decent at it. The problem is that my cooking mentality never went far beyond that. I would add twists to my stir fry, but I essentially cooked the same meal for several years. A few times after getting married I tried other things, but never really felt comfortable – under control – in the kitchen.

So, my wife knew the potential pitfall with her request. She might get variety as far as vegetables, but she was looking at stir fry city.

Fortunately something happened for her birthday. I tried a new recipe that was outside of my zone and it turned out amazing. Suddenly a multitude of scary cooking methods became attainable. That allowed us to enjoy chicken nuggets, dirty rice, creamy chicken soup, and other goodies. Suddenly the kitchen has turned from a one way street into a highway of possibilities. I imagine I will drive the cooking-mobile into the ditch sometimes, but at least I feel more comfortable at the wheel.

Tonight I made cheeseburgers in the old frying pan (oh, enjoy your grills you lucky people) and they were good. Not great, but I see them getting quickly better. And yes, I did fry an egg to put on mine.

Special thanks to this blog for a couple of those recipes.

Whoa…

My beautiful wife reminds me with some regularity that I have not blogged in quite some time. She is right. I think about writing some. Or, a lot. I am sure not making any promises.

And – if you have free time – I recommend visiting Fort Collins, CO; Laramie, WY; and Marquette, MI. If you have time.

Community in Deuteronomy…

Later in the day after my previous post I considered more about what I had read that morning in the Bible. It strikes me as exciting how one can read the Bible repeatedly and discover new depths (or obvious things!) again and again. In the past I often found myself exploring the Bible for better understandings of what life in community looks like. To be specific: I looked in Acts. That is the place we see the greatest amount of description of what community looked like in the early Church. Still, it is primarily description. The text does not appear to contain a large number of direct indications of how Christians ought to live out life together. To be fair, some of these elements are worked out in much greater prescription through other letters in the New Testament.

What occurred to me so surprisingly in the middle of last week is how clearly Deuteronomy is a declaration of how Israel should live together in community. The reality of interactive community life seems almost to be an assumption in much of the text. So, how does one live it? Another underlying element is clearly that man is sinful and selfish. Deuteronomy strikes at the heart of man’s selfish tendencies in relation to, well, relational life. Considering that men and women don’t naturally think of God and others first, Israel was given instruction in regards to changing their mindset. (Furthermore, I must insist that such mind and action changing does not truly happen without Christ working new life in the heart of a person.)

The practical element that stuck out to me was the constant theme of regarding your neighbor’s stuff in the same way you would treat your own stuff. This is not my inner tendency! The instruction on occasion deals with livestock. I don’t know much about livestock, but I can sure think of it in terms of property. If someone’s cow wanders in to your field you are supposed to treat it as your own until it can be returned. That seems easy enough. Yet, I think we often have other reactions. Instead of caring for our neighbor’s cow we say it isn’t our problem and that they should watch it better. Or that we don’t have time for it because we have so much other cattle to look after. I think that the Lord graciously looked at our sinful tendencies and gave us clear words in the Law to direct us as to how to actually live in love. This is a major aspect of community. It is so often summed up in the catchy phrase: “Love God, love others.” When you consider Jesus’ statement that the law is summed up in these commands things start to make more sense.

Who knew that the Old Testament had anything to say about community…