A Telltale Sign

When an institution’s de facto policy is:

There’s no structural defect that a little fresh paint won’t fix.

Be Brief (a Fifty)

Be brief,” the note said.

It was scribbled on hotel room notepaper, folded and stuck between slats of this park bench. Only that hotel went out of business 50 years ago.

I’d stopped for a sandwich before my big meeting and someone from before I was born was giving me advice.

Losing Faith (Part 1 of 3)

Yesterday upon the stair
I met a man who wasn’t there.
He wasn’t there again today.
Oh, how I wish he’d go away.

One of the five essential points of Calvinist Protestantism is called the perseverance of the saints.

It’s the idea that once a person has been saved by faith, that person is forevermore saved, and consequently that person will never “lose faith.”

The problem with the idea is that some people do seem to lose their faith. Some people lose it quietly. Others become loud ambassadors of disbelief.

The Calvinists defend the validity of their proposition by saying that such persons must never have really had a saving faith to begin with. If they did, they wouldn’t have lost it. Whatever these lapsed believers used to believe wasn’t true belief, even if it looked like it at the time.

It’s always seemed to me that this was a cover-up for bad theology. It’s why I was a Zwinglian (anti-Calvinist) for so long.

But then I lost my faith. At least in terms of any recognizeable Christian tradition.

Many people nowadays tell me they believe in God, but they’re not so sure about the whole Christian thing. For me, it’s backwards. Jesus has just enough historical reference outside of the Christian tradition about him that I can make a reasonable case for believing that he roamed Palestine during the reign of Tiberius. It’s the God part that I have trouble with.

I believe that Jesus believed in God. I accept that Jesus was wise, given the movement that got started around him and the stories of his teachings and doings. But wise isn’t the same as infallible. Or God.

So I find myself in the odd position of being a Christian agnostic. I’m not exactly at home any longer in church, where God and the divinity of Jesus is a given. But I’m not in the atheist camp either, where to mention Jesus is anathema.

I find myself as if sitting at the net in a tennis match while the fundamentalist deists of all stripes hurl threats of hell at the atheists, and the fundamentalist atheists return threats of no-hell.

In spite of this, losing my faith has been one of the best things I’ve ever done.

I don’t have to make excuses for bad theology any more. I don’t have to convince anyone of my convictions.

I still pray. I just pray differently. I pray in recognition of all that is rather than to someone who is but isn’t.

I’m free to follow Jesus without worrying what the church will think.

For the Christian life is faith, and faith is life. Jesus said, “Anyone who loses his life because of me will find it.”

Part 2 | Part 3

143.3

Plants

We brought in all the plants last night. Frost is predicted for the next couple nights. This morning’s weather report says arctic air is arriving this weekend.

We’ve moved them all to the dining area by the big back window where the morning sun comes in.

Out on the deck, all spread out, they didn’t seem like much. In here all crowded in the window it’s like a low wall of green. They’re really quite beautiful.

I can’t take care of plants myself. If it were left to me, I’d kill them all within a couple weeks. But under Brooke’s care there will probably be twice as many by the time we put them back out on the deck in the spring.

If I Could Be Anywhere

The willow tree half way down the hill has turned a bright gold against the gray sky. The maples down along the river have gone red and orange.

Morning river fog, the leftovers from the rain last night, rises from the water. The draft of rising mountain air carries it past the evergreens on the other side, up along the mountain ridge to meet the low clouds.

Other than the fog, there’s no movement. Even the surface of the river has turned dark reflecting glass. And it’s quiet.

Life here isn’t always bucolic.

The past few days have been a whirlwind of activity. Contractors in and out for repairs sometimes showing up, sometimes rearranging schedules around them saying they will only to wait for hours. Contentious meetings. Community events where one must “show face.” Project deadlines looming. Company and the inevitable mad rush to make the house presentable.

Neither is the scene always so colorful.

Autumn colors will soon give way to November and everything will be gray. The wind will howl. Everything will be dead.

The Adirondacks are named for the Mohawk word for the starving time that comes every winter. The time when you’re so hungry you eat the bark off the trees to survive. hatiron’taks means, “they eat trees.”

I know the starving time is coming. This place isn’t exempt from the day to day grind.

But for now, the only place I really care to be is here, looking out my back window while the steam from my tea rises in solidarity with the fog.

145.6

Online Consolidation

I’ve accumulated a bunch of domain names over the years. As I’ve tried different hosting services, they’ve been registered in a number of different places. It’s time to consolidate. I’m transferring all of them this week to Hover.

Along with those domain names I’ve accumulated a lot of blogs and other websites. Some of them are hosted my VPS service. Others on various shared hosting services. Some of those services are better than others. Mostly, they’re ok. A couple of them suck.

Over the next couple weeks, I’m transferring all of them to Siteground’s “Go Geek” plan. I can host everything on one really good service. It’ll save me a couple hundred dollars a year. It even comes with Git, a CDN (Content Delivery Network), an SSL cert and backups.

143.8

Bridge

After most of the summer off, I’m back to playing bridge on Friday afternoons again.

I’m filling in for one of the ladies whose husband is sick and requiring all her attention at home.

I’d think she’d want a break from doing 24/7 nursing duty at home all week, but apparently not.

It’s party bridge, and the snacks are plentiful, so it makes for a good end-of-the-week diversion. They don’t play for money. I suppose you could say they play for peanuts.

Last week I took first place. The prize is getting to take the score sheet home to stick on your refrigerator for the week.

I ate the grapes.

144.4

Writing and Blogging 101

I’ve registered for the Daily Post’s Writing 101. It starts on September 15.

I might even post some of the results.

They also have a Blogging 101 track starting at the same time. Both tracks are free.

If you’ve ever thought about starting a blog, now’s the time.

145.2