Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lewis on Standards

When you think about these differences between the morality of one people and another, do you think that the morality of one people is ever better or worse than that of another? Have any of the changes been improvements? If not, then of course there could never be any moral progress. Progress means not just changing, but changing for the better.If no set of moral ideas were truer or better than any other, there would be no sense in preferring civilised morality to savage morality, or Christian morality to Nazi morality....The moment you say that one set of moral ideas can be better than another, you are, in fact, measuring them both by a standard, saying that one of them conforms to that standard more nearly than the other.....Or put it this way. If your moral ideas can be truer, and those of the Nazis less true, there must be something—some Real Morality—for them to be true about.....if the Rule of Decent Behaviour meant simply ‘whatever each nation happens to approve’, there would be no sense in saying that any one nation had ever been more correct in its approval than any other; no sense in saying that the world could ever grow morally better or morally worse. (Mere Christianity, p. 25)

I'm sorry if I put too large of a passage up to quote, but it seems to me that so much of what Lewis (Clive.  Do you think he'd be okay with me calling him "Clive"?  "C.S."?   Okay, I'll stick with "Lewis") says requires his further explanation.   Even within the context of the above quote, Lewis gives an excellent example of how one can have the wrong or right idea of New York, only because it is a real place.  If it only existed in our own heads, it would be a matter of maybe that's true for you but not me, but since it is real, one's idea of it can be complete or incomplete.

I like that he says we can only judge the Nazis as wrong because there is a standard of moral conduct from which they fall short.  (Very, very, very short.)   Today we like to be understanding and tolerant of other nations (with such humility that it seems to me we barely tolerate ourselves, but I digress) but the atrocities committed by the Nazis were so monstrous, so far from the Rule of Decent Behavior, that even with the distance of seventy years, there is no way to see their actions from a point of view other than horror.  But if we simply went by the definition "whatever each nation happens to approve", why is their behavior considered by us to be so shocking, atrocious, repugnant, savage, ruthless... wrong even?  (I mean, really, could you think of any other example were the word "sinful" just didn't seem strong enough?)

There is a standard, and it is born in every one of us.  This means that it is impossible for us to be "tolerant" all the time, or else we fall into the trap of tolerating what is immoral, and thus becoming immoral ourselves. 

My friend Jason is hosting the book discussion on Mere Christianity, Chapter Two today. Click here to read his thoughts on progress, and the links to other discussions of this chapter.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The First Twitter Ho Down Post of March

Do you know what we haven't had here in ages?  A HO DOWN!  A twitter ho down to be exact.  This time I've made it easy for you, and you can just follow along like it was  a conversation.   I know.  I'm spoiling you. 

dlrayburn @duane_scott So how is your "daddy" doing?
duane_scott @dlrayburn are you asking me who my daddy is? Really.
Helenatrandom @duane_scott @dlrayburn I HATE the expression "Who's your daddy?" Ummm.... a man who'd beat the crap out of any man who'd ASK me that...
dlrayburn @duane_scott Drink some more coffee buddy... that said How not who. ;-)

katdish Random fact: The honey bee kills more people each year than venomous snakes. Happy Spring, y'all!
Helenatrandom katdish Okay, now I feel guilty for putting honey in my whiskey (medicinal purposes only...). Now I'll have to learn to drink it straight.

RobinMArnold Pretty sure my phone is laying dead somewhere in the house. Not sure I care.
Helenatrandom@RobinMArnold PHONICIDE!!!!!!!!!!!!! Shouldn't you get the CSI's down there, ASAP?

Helenatrandom @br8kthru @sarahmsalter BTW, is it too late for me to take my name out of the drawing for Mere Christianity? I told my husband about the
Helenatrandom @br8kthru @sarahmsalter the book discussion, and he forbade me... KIDDING!!!! Actually, he dug his copy out of a box in the basement and
sarahmsalter @Helenatrandom LOL! You should've seen how big my eyes just got!! :o) @br8kthru
Helenatrandom@sarahmsalter I know. Sometimes my sense of humor is a little.... "too much?" @br8kthru

Helenatrandom @Psych_USA Why pineapple? Because it's the symbol of hospitality? Because of it's odd shape? Because bananas are too suggestive? WHY???

Schnik I really want to announce something exciting but I'm waiting on one more thing before I do. Stay tuned.
Helenatrandom@Schnik Suspense!! Do you know how to keep a lunatic in suspense for 24 hours?
Helenatrandom @Schnik hehehehehehe!!!!!!!! I'll tell you tomorrow!!! :-0

Helenatrandom My cousin just sent me an email telling me how he doubled the value of his car! He filled it with gas.

funnyoneliners "My chicken outranks your chicken, Colonel Sanders!" - General Tso RT @zombot

RobinMArnold Meat eaters don't taste good." Guy talking about lions on Terry Gross show. Interesting.
Helenatrandom@RobinMArnold One more reason to not become a vegetarian...

duane_scott “@weightwhat: @duane_scott I do what I can.” // Care to give me a name for a character? A wife who's married to a surgeon. She's 38.
@weightwhat @duane_scott What's the surgeon's name?
duane_scott @weightwhat Roy. He's 40 and balding. @Helenatrandom
Helenatrandom@duane_scott What is she like? Is she 40 and balding? Is she a trophy wife? Booby prize wife? @weightwhat
Helenatrandom @duane_scott Are you looking for a whimsical name? Dickensian? @weightwhat
weightwhat @Helenatrandom AAAAA!!!! You said booby!
@Helenatrandom@weightwhat Yep. And I got you to say it, too!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

As if the Northern States Didn't Have Enough Problems

Time for yet another Pleasantly Disturbed Thursday!

Okay, talk about a disturbing morning!  While I was attempting to leave a comment while attributing it to a Muppet on my friend's blog, the power went out in my house.  I'm sure taking a Muppet's name in vain had nothing to do with it, but it was certainly a bummer!  On the other hand, when I heard the generator go on, I was relieved to find out that at least my computer wasn't broken.   It scared the daylights out of me.

BTW, exactly what does "scared the daylights out of me" mean?   My Mama always used to say that, and I much prefer it to the more popular phrase of which I actually do understand the meaning so I won't use it.  (I mean, really, why would anyone want to admit to that?)  Daylights are a much prettier picture, but I'm still not entirely sure what I'm saying got scared out of me.

Also disturbing is that even though it is spring, I woke up to see snow on my lawn and the surrounding rooftops.  I'm so over snow!   Of course, the first hot July day, and I'm going to want snow in a cone, but that's besides the point, right?   (I know.  Mark Twain said that everyone complains about the weather, but no one does anything about it.   Well guess what.  He's dead now.  So there!)

OH YEAH! HAPPY CHOCOLATE COVERED RAISIN DAY!  I have a friend who considers any kind of raisin disturbing.  Not me, though.  I only find them disturbing when they are covered in chocolate, or mixed into cookies or bread.   I truly get not wasting the grape just because it got dried out.  I just don't understand ruining the chocolate, cookie, or bread with it.   By itself, eating it is a matter of conservation, and I do try to do my part for the environment.  (For instance, I only fart in the direction of Wisconsin. As for  Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, and Missouri, you're welcome!)   But I don't see what chocolate, bread, or cookies did that they have to share the burden.  (Same logic for Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, and Missouri.)

Well, Duane Scott said to type all the disturbing thoughts I have in twenty minutes for PDT posts, so it seems my time is up.   If you want more disturbing thoughts, check out his blog and others who linked to his PDT blog carnival.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Right and Wrong

I'm glad I don't have to give a synopsis of the whole chapter (all FOUR pages), because every paragraph he writes says a mouthful! (though so far, not difficult at all to understand).   Take parts of these two paragraphs.

" I know that some  people  say the idea of a Law  of  Nature or decent
behaviour known to all men is unsound, because different  civilisations  and
different ages have had quite different moralities."
"But this  is  not  true.........for  our present purpose I need only ask the reader to think what a totally different
morality  would  mean. Think of  a country  where  people were admired  for
running away in battle, or where a man felt proud of double-crossing all the
people who had been kindest to him. You might just as well try to imagine a
country  where  two  and  two made five. Men have differed  as regards what
people you ought to be unselfish to-whether it was only your own  family, or
your  fellow  countrymen, or everyone. But they have always agreed that you
ought  not to  put yourself  first. Selfishness has never been admired. Men
have differed as to whether you should have one wife or four. But they have
always agreed that you must not simply have any woman you liked."

All people will agree  "What is mine is mine."   We all feel entitled to our property.  The question is whether what is yours is negotiable...   I suppose Lewis would say the answer to that is dependent on whom "you" are in various cultures.   Are you my family or friend?   My neighbor?  My protector?   Different cultures may differ as to who gets treated with unselfishness, but not about what constitutes the rights of the chosen. 

I find his take refreshing compared to the “truth is relative” nonsense we hear so much in our own culture.  

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL!!!!!!!! - One Word Blog Carnival

Courtesy of Photobucket

It's time for the one word blog carnival again, and this week the one word is goals.

(I'm not entirely sure, but I think that the guy in the video scored a goal.....)

I can't say I remember the last time I scored a significant goal.   Was it as a child, playing kickball?   Was it graduating from college?  Perhaps it was when I began my teaching career.  Wait!  I have it!   I organized my kitchen in February!  Yay for me!   Too bad I didn't think of asking a friend to scream "GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" when I was done.  (Though I do have an aunt who informed me she was very proud of me for getting started on organizing my home...)

I wonder what that would be like to have that commentator narrating my day.

I finished a load of dishes.

I completed the lettering for the boys' projects for the retreat.

I called the Parish Office to find out if D. J. is a boy or a girl.

I finished reading the Introduction of Mere Christianity.  

I started dinner for the evening.

My husband and I arrived at the Evangelization Committee Meeting at Church.

At, first it sounds like it would be great, but to have an unbiased commentary, it would have to include when I was being distracted by twitter before loading the dishwasher,  grumbling at the letters that were sticking together, procrastinating calling the Parish Office because I'm afraid that the secretary doesn't like me, reading the comics before C. S. Lewis, taking the frozen chicken patties out of the freezer instead of making a homemade meal today, and talking about mundane things at the meeting before getting down to work.

When push comes to shove, it's all pretty meaningless in and of itself.  Dishes will need to be done once again, as well as dinner be made.   The retreat will be over  on Saturday.   The meeting may or may not accomplish anything.   If I fully comprehend every word Lewis wrote, will it affect even one person's life?

There is only one way any of my day to day goals have any meaning.

2 Corinthians 5:9 (New International Version, ©2011)

9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.

(or in fuller context)

2 Corinthians 5:8-10 (New International Version, ©2011)

8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

If God is pleased in some small way that my husband and I have dinner (and on clean plates, too!), or that little children will have a project organized for them, or that my mind is filled with Lewis's thoughts rather than those of the writers' of  CSI, or that we meet and discuss how to bring people's hearts closer to him rather than we stay home and watch NCIS, well then, I guess there is dignity in the accomplishment of even the smallest goal.

I think this post is done.....


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

New Book Discussion Next Week : Mere Christianity

My friends Jason and Sarah will be hosting another book discussion.  This time the book is C.S. Lewis's "Mere Christianity".

My husband dug out his copy and gave it to me, so I will be participating in the discussion here at Random Musings, as will Duane Scott and Dusty Rayburn.   I'm sure DS and DR will be far more insightful than I'll be.  I'm afraid I just don't have the head for philosophy that I did half my life ago...

However, I am still looking forward to reading and discussing Lewis.   Lewis is as relevant now as he was in the middle of the twentieth century!  Lewis's trilemma will always be relevant.

"I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. ... Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God."

He wrote that in Mere Christianity, but truth be told,  I found it as a quote at the end of Lee Strobel's The Case for Christ. The only C.S. Lewis I've read are the Chronicles of Narnia, and a book of quotations. I'm torn between looking forward to reading this book, and fearing that I won't be able to wrap more poor little brain around most of what he has to say.  Luckily it has been decreed that we can pick a segment from the chapter to discus in our posts, rather than a synopsis of the whole chapter.    I'm not sure my mind can feast on Lewis, but it will definitely nibble!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Future: It's in the Cards (or Not)

Okay, I goofed yesterday. I did not remember what the One Word blog carnival was even going to be about, much less was I prepared to participate.   However, I have had some time to reflect on the word Future since yesterday.   Actually, I have been reflecting on it all weekend, I just didn't know it was the word for the blog carnival.
Saturday I saw Carmen in 3D.  I really enjoyed it.   Surprisingly, one of the scenes that stirred my imagination was the scene with the tarot cards.
Over and over she sees the omen of her death in the cards, even though she tries again....   It had me thinking about how much she further and further pushed Don Jose away after seeing that.   Did she push him away because, as the beginning of the story implies, she's just like that, or did she push him away because she saw him as an enemy in the cards?   Did he kill her in the end because he was an obsessive nutcase, or because he was told over and over again by her that he would?   Is the future really so set in stone, that it was just the way it was going to be no matter what she did?  Was she really better off "knowing" no matter which view one takes?

God makes it clear in Leviticus that he does not want us to go to fortune tellers and the like to find out our future.  He doesn't seem to like the business of fortune telling at all!   While I knew that while watching, I asked myself what I would tell someone who did not find Leviticus a convincing argument at all.  Would I shrug and say "Well I do!"  or would I explain.  What would I say?

At one time, I found the idea of knowing the future to be intriguing.  It was God's word in Leviticus that kept me from psychics.   Now, while I find Leviticus every bit as compelling,  I find in my heart that I do not even wish to know the future any longer.  I don't want to know that I get hit by a bus!  I don't want to spend my life wondering if I can avoid that bus, or if I am fated to be smashed by it.   I don't want to cross the street, and wonder if the bus is somewhere nearby unseen.  I don't want to ride a bus wondering if ironically I am reading the paper or conversing in the instrument that will be my death.

I don't want to live my life thinking about my death, but hoping that what I am doing, or will be doing next, will have some significance in the eternal design, even if it is a mere dot.   I can't do that avoiding buses... I'd rather have hope in the future than knowledge of it.

This post is being respectfully submitted to Peter Pollock's blog carnival.

If you were expecting a post about Lent today, click here.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Reasons Our Local Grocery Store Should Go Back to Playing the Radio Over the Intercom

Dear Grocery Store Management:

I am writing to inform you that I was in no way trying to seduce anyone with a tube of Pillsbury French Loaf and pound of butter yesterday.   I was just artistically interpreting one of the great mezzo-soprano arias of all time for supermarket participation.   I blame you for the disturbance.   Ever since you stopped playing music over your intercom system, I have been forced to sing and dance to the music in my mind while I shop.  Unfortunately for you and your customers, I ran in for a few things yesterday after I had just come back from seeing Carmen in 3D.  The Habanera IS such a catchy tune... la moooor......  LA moooooor....  la MOOOOR.... LA MOOOR!!!!!   I don't think I was so much frightening the children, as it was the mothers understood that Carmen was not an appropriate topic to explain to them when they went home.  To my credit, both the butcher, and the man in the check out line were highly entertained.  Also, I do not see why I was forced to buy the whole carton of eggs.  I only used one egg, and I did not even break it!
Please consider playing the radio over your intercom system again, so that I can go back to singing "Fernando"  to the cantaloupe, and we can all go back to normal.
Thank you,

P.S.  My husband has recycled the caps from Snapple bottles, and suggests that next time I can use them as castanets.   It really is in your best interest to comply.

I'm sure my regular readers are well aware that my rendition of the Habanera was probably about as sensual as this one with, Beaker, Animal, and Swedish Chef.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Ode to Cheetoes

- is for the comfort they give me when I'm feel down
- is for hips they extend so that I wear pants that fit like a clown's
E- is for the excellent sound of the crunch
E- is for ecstasy, I like them a bunch!
T- is for the taste I hope lingers
O- is for the orange color of my fingers

It takes a lot of Cheetos to get an orange kitten! (Thanks Photobucket)

Yummy in My Tummy
a Haiku by Helenatrandom
Cheetos going crunch
so yummy in my tummy
wiping hands on coat

Ode to Cheetos
a Cinquain by Helenatrandom
orange food
tasting, licking, crunching
happy, full, satisfied, messy

What Cheetos are Made of
a Tanka by Helenatrandom
Sunshine with a crunch
A flamanco dancers zest
Kissed with angel lips
add a dash of baby smiles
and a lot of calories