Focus is Difficult

I’ve been re-posting and reblogging, but I really haven’t written much since June. I haven’t been able to focus well enough to finish a thought.

I could say that I’m overwhelmed with all that’s on my plate, but I was doing all the same things before I stopped writing; I only took considerable time away from the other things to write. I still have just as much time, as long as I can justify writing rather than acting responsibly and getting stuff done.

I think I simply got off track. I had to prepare for VBS. I was the craft teacher for grades 4 through 6, and there are no canned craft ideas or coloring handouts for me, no! I just think the kids deserve to learn something real about the subject of the VBS theme, work on open-ended art which allows for their own creative expression, and take home something that’s not going straight to the trash. Then you have to actually prepare the materials and work out how to instruct the kids to carry it all out. (And when VBS time arrived, I had to take over in another grade unexpectedly, so we together had to come up with some craft ideas on the spot.) That might sound easy but it actually takes a lot of time and mental energy. It takes some sustained focus.

I’m not good at sustained focus. I can keep sustained focus for one extra-necessary thing at a time. I can either write or do art.

When I was on the writing track, I was thinking about writing most of the time. I always have many more posts in progress than I have finished and posted. If I had a “brilliant”, “insightful” thought I was instantly composing it for a post like I was in the grip of a bad habit.

But once VBS loomed, I was heading down the art track. After VBS, I had to get serious about my little business. I had to start making new books for the arts festival where I was going to be a vendor. And the other one. And I must be treating my business like a business and not like a hobby. Regular work times in the daily schedule and all that.

The business is micro, but it’s starting to gain momentum. Someone from a local gallery and arts center saw my booth at the fair and asked me to sell my books at the center’s shop. I am more than excited over this. I really have to pay attention to the opportunities now.

So I have been on the bookbinding and cover-designing track since July, and I’m going to be fixed on that mental track probably til early December.

I have quite a few posts in the works, but I really don’t know when I’ll be able to gather the mental steam to treat them right. Thanks to you all who are reading this; I know you’re faithful friends and I appreciate your loyalty. A hug to each of you.

Hope to talk to you soon.

dsc03724

Always distracted: stopping to take a picture of my picturesque arrangement because the sun.

God Laughs

Even we believers think that the devil is the god (small g) of this world.  He certainly believes it. We surrender to this discouraging scenario, and sigh at the uphill battle before us.

But we ought to laugh at this because our experience actually proves otherwise.

You have a conversation with a fellow church attender which seems to you unremarkable, more than chit-chat but no heavy lifting on your part. You walk away and go on with your life. Later, this same friend tells you that you had been the voice of God, saying to her precisely the words she needed, at exactly the right time. And you had casually dropped that verse which seemed to you like a good fit, but which confirmed God as the author of your advice, because it was the secret verse at the center of her lonely turmoil all along.

Were you in a trance or controlled by a remote irresistible force? Did you feel anything? Of course not: you only thought you were having an easy conversation with a friend. You didn’t know you were being a conduit for words from heaven to a needy soul. God did that.

Have you noticed how easy it is for Almighty God to work in and through you in this supposedly Satan-controlled world?

Satan is called the prince of this world. He is called a lion wandering about seeking whom he may devour. He is permitted some time and some freedom to work his will.

“I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming, and he has no claim on Me.”

The prince is a pretender to the throne and he will be cast out.

“Now judgement is upon this world; now the prince of this world will be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.”

Because of the discouraged worldview we borrow, we convince ourselves that God has to break through! or work some magic in conflict with the natural flow and the laws of physics to make Himself known. Like it’s a super-supernatural feat for the Creator of the universe to make something happen in the universe He designed. That’s ridiculous.

It is actually effortless and seamless for God to work in our interactions and in the world.

It ALL belongs to Him, his fingerprints are on every atom, He’s everywhere. He can move and connect people effortlessly. It’s ALL His and the devil is a deceived fool.

The only thing standing in His way is our free will, and that’s negotiable. Ask Jonah.

Same-Sex Marriage vs. the Real Thing

Doug Mainwaring, a marriage and children’s rights activist, tells the truth here about the battle for marriage.

Marriage is so much more than we think. Here are my own related thoughts: The First Creation

 

Same-Sex Marriage vs. the Real Thing: A Gay Man’s View of the Big Picture

 

 

 

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New Show, New Books

From my biz blog.

MaddyTree Books

I was a vendor at Lansdowne Arts on the Avenue Festival last Sunday. I had doubts but it turned out well. I received more constructive feedback from customers than ever before. I made a decent amount of money which covered the entrance fee and some major equipment. I have some outdoor-tent experience under my belt now which will pay off in future. Despite a great deal of physical effort, it was a valuable opportunity for which I’m grateful.

It was my first outdoor venue. The former venue for this show was two days and indoors, with a lovely additional opening event complete with gourmet desserts. No equipment needed. This show was six hours total and literally on the street on Lansdowne Avenue, rain or shine. Bring your own tent, tables, everything.

Taking a long-range business perspective, I invested in a canopy (tent). I borrowed tables. I tried to gear up…

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Bored with What?!

Rerunning this from two years ago.

It seems my recent post The Waning of Desire: Thoughts on Modesty and Its Opposite  is in danger of being summed up by a familiar phrase:  “Modest is Hottest.”  My fault, I did put “modest” in the title.  My main aim was not to focus on the dangers of improper dress, although it was a piece of the story.

On the  “M is H” social campaign, I find the phrase irritating, the sloganeering insulting, and the reasoning confusing…To dress modestly is hottest?  Then are we aiming at being “hot”, sexually provocative, after all? But to do this by covering up is OK? It’s alright to want to turn on our observers as long as it looks like it’s unintentional? As long as we don’t technically break any dress code rules?

I don’t think that’s what they mean to say either. Must remember to think about popular slogans before we repeat them.

My real point was that a lot of people in our society have lost their connection to something primal and instinctual, so much a vital part of our glorious design, that it is intrinsic to being human and being alive. It is the natural drive to desire and seek sexual satisfaction.

It would be almost impossible in a given day to completely avoid not only explicit sexual images and situations, but even remotely suggestive sexual ideas. We are washed with waves of generic public sexuality almost everywhere. And our media culture no longer arranges its schedule so as to spare children from things they won’t understand. There can be little doubt that children are indeed the object toward which much sexually-infused content is aimed. Just trying to create an uncritical and trusting market.

But the result of all this constant sexual stimulation is not what was intended. There is evidence that some young people are bored with sex.

It is hard to believe possible. Some documentation needed?

The day after I posted, I read this article: Bearing New Images about iconic acclaimed anime filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki. He has been writing for years about the condition of popular culture in his beloved Japan. There are people under the age of 25 in my life, so I read it. Miyazaki has been sounding grave worries about Japanese culture and its effects on Japan’s society. And here is the notable piece:

“…on one point he is surely, but sadly, right: Japan is in peril. Indeed, it’s dying. In its 2013 survey of the sexual habits of Japanese, the Japan Family Planning Association (JFPA) discovered that a catastrophic number of Japanese teens and young adults, aged 16-24, have lost the desire for sex. A quarter of Japanese young men were “not interested in or despised sexual contact”; 45 percent of women reported the same.”

This is astonishing. These young people are bored not only with media-image sex, but are bored with real sex.

I believe we are seeing evidence of similar things right here. Young people flirt with one another by very graphically mimicking sexual situations. Dancing consists of a variety of pantomime sex acts. Near nudity is the only way to dress, and embarrassment over very personal contact has been lost.

To do so is still thought rebellious. Naughty, bad, cool, whatever. But it might just be a habit without a reason. It’s an act. The champagne cork doesn’t seem to pop. All that simulated stimulation leads nowhere. The normal human response doesn’t seem to follow.

Did you think it was possible to make young, healthy people uninterested in sex?  I did not.

I could be wrong. Maybe all that focus on sex is real. Maybe there’s lots of it going on. But maybe it’s just a self-assuring pose.

Our young people are saturated in the popular culture to a degree not seen before. We could turn the TV off and leave the living room. They carry all TV, all media, all of human information, in their hands in one slim device. They have media coming at them from everywhere, all the time.

Add anime culture. Surround them with hero tales, romances, ghost stories, horror, all fractured and rearranged via postmodernism. Then remove all real human beings and replace them with cartoons. Imagine the possibilities. Heroes and villains drawn to order.

Imagine being totally submerged in this popular culture, cosplaying all the time.You identify with anime characters. You are someone else, and that person is digital, two-dimensional and totally imaginary. Imagine how boring cultivating real relationships with real people must seem.

We might have a generation, at least, whose ideal of masculinity and femininity is truly imaginary. Are young men learning what to seek in a partner from the anatomically-impossible standards set by anime women? How many times have you heard a young woman pining wistfully for a man like the hero in her favorite Disney movie? Our kids are looking for cartoon people to build lives with.

They may be disappointed.

The same article goes on to explain why it matters:

“Not surprisingly, in 2012, fewer Japanese babies were born than in any other recorded year. The consequences are clear: JFPA director Dr. Kunio Kitamura warns that Japan will ‘perish into extinction.’”

Will large numbers of young people lack the motivation to build enduring connections with other people, to work hard to support others, to build, to produce, to cultivate? Will they inhabit little solitary islands of self-interest and constant entertainment, wistfully looking for meaning? If so, we all lose.

Not so long ago, it was not considered crass or utilitarian to expect that young people would naturally be driven to seek marriage partners at least partially because they wanted a sexual relationship. Social consensus still agreed that sex was most honorable inside marriage.

And as I pointed out, when we attain a reliable sexual relationship in marriage, we get much more than we thought we were getting.  The drive that motivates us to seek sex is also  the drive to find faithful connection and sublime oneness with another human being. And then we get so much more than we asked for.

Sexual desire is meant to compel us toward important things like finding permanent mates, reproducing, creating families. Families and children need financial support, so people pursue careers and create homes. They cultivate unique cultures in their homes. They build an interdependent society. They pass on a heritage.

Sex (in marriage) requires you to be the right person, work hard and sacrifice, and maintain a committed loyal relationship. I need hardly point out that the formula marriage= sex has been lost, gone out of fashion like spats. Sex is no longer treasured as something special which only happens in the context of a unique commitment.

And when it’s regarded as common, easily obtained, meaningless…who is going to work for that? And why should you be excited about it?

We’re losing marriage. Maybe sex is going next. Maybe there was a real connection between the two.

 

No Suicides That Day, Only Murders

Today we remember an awful, awful day. Freedom Through Empowerment shares this perspective which must not be forgotten.

Freedom Through Empowerment

This video is difficult to watch. It’s a beautiful homage to those that jumped from the Twin Towers on 9/11 and pierces the heart deeply. Way down where emotions from that time are twitching and the sadness, horror and rage still raw as if it just happened yesterday.

It’s done respectfully though and I show it because I feel the soft filter of time is slowly displacing the sheer horror of what occurred, which, for me anyway, somehow disrespects the dead and leaves us vulnerable for a repeat attack.

As the narrator states, there were no suicides that day, only murders. The intense heat (steel was changing shape remember) and thick, black smoke must have been unbearable, as it forced an estimated 200 people to face an unimaginable and desperate choice; stay and surely be burned alive, or jump to certain death from 90 floors above. For a gripping account…

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The Next Step

I happen to know that this blog which was formerly part commentary and rabble-rousing, part fiction, is shifting its focus. It will henceforth be a creative fiction blog. This guy is one of the best writers you’ll read. Tell your friends.

Glass Planet

Harper worked quietly in the immaculate, germ-free laboratory.  The assembly protocols demanded absolute sterility and the complete absence of dust but Harper wore no gloves and no mask.  Such precautions hadn’t been necessary for centuries.

He completed the installation of the system he’d been working on for the past hour then signaled for the next set of parts and instructions, the request flowing over his direct neural connection to the quantum net.  As the next kit of parts floated into its dock on the stand by the workbench Harper picked up exchanges between some of the project specialists beaming back and forth along the quantum channels.

“Back-up plan revised based on updated project outcome projection.  If this prototype fails, then additional power conservation measures will be required.  All units associated with District Seven will be disconnected.  Power will be routed to District Eight, laboratory complex A.”

The fact that Harper…

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