Something in the Water at LwC

[url=http://konkadoo.lifewithchrist.org/permalink/11692][u]Cheryl[/u][/url],
[url=http://blessedmom2k.lifewithchrist.org/permalink/11433][u]Jess[/u][/url]
and now
[url=http://homerealm.lifewithchrist.org/permalink/11807][u]Samantha[/u][/url]

I think I’ll hold off suggesting that my Bride start blogging here anytime soon 😉

Good Readin’ Zines

Monday evening I received a package from Texas; a nondescript manilla envelope — they’ve arrived. I carefully opened the envelope and slid out the contents; one bumper sticker, a membership card, a wonderful handmade journal (I am thinking this will be a gift, but to whom?), some information cards and two zines. Zines, you ask? Yep, zines.

Samantha over at The Home Realm publishes a couple of zines. You can learn more about them here. They are two zines somewhat different in theme, but similar in that they are of Samantha. She calls them the Eclectic Domestic and the Bohemian House Wife. I can hear you now, “g! What gives? Eclectic Domestic? Bohemian Housewife? Is there a side to you that you’ve yet to share with us?” Well, yes, but I’ll save most of that for other posts. Suffice it to say that I am actually quite the domestic. Granted, there was a period of time where I actually demonstrated that a man could physiologically sustain himself on canned spaghetti and root beer, but I have developed quite considerably in the necessary skills to contribute to the making of a home. In fact I’ve even been told I make awesome savory French onion/mushroom soup… which also happens to go quite well with root beer. I am also a bit anal-retentive (yes, there is a hyphen in anal-retentive!) so there are no dirty socks on the floor when I’m around, which is a good thing. There are also to be no forks pointing the wrong direction in the silverware caddie, which I’m told can be a bit annoying — and don’t let me catch you putting the lid on a PB&J sandwich contrary to its base!

Samantha was one of the first bloggers I began reading and I have always looked forward to her postings. When I read about her zine endeavor, I figured her track record with her blog suggested her zines would be nothing if not interesting. They are! I started reading the Eclectic Domestic but my Bride swiped it. So, I read the Bohemian House Wife — very, very personal. Samantha provides a look into her head and heart that is very honest and revealing. I found Samantha’s writing giving me another perspective on my daughter. She is preparing to leave her teens and enter her twenties and is attempting to find her balance in the ‘grown-up world’. Samantha writes of her life’s phases and how she has experienced the hand of God thoughout. My prayer is that Nicole is also sensative to the Lord’s leading and protection. And if she happens to mature into her own variation of an Eclectic Domestic or even a Bohemian House Wife… I will count myself blessed.

A Night At The Movies

I love films that move me. I don’t particularly care for the scary variety, but appreciate a good story that touches my heart or even a well done performance that challenges something of my life that I may have taken for granted or even ignored totally. Of course I love to be entertained, although mindless comedy tends to bore me.

What if a movie moves you to want to take action? Can a movie expect something of you? I had read reviews of a particular movie — Hotel Rwanda — and wondered if this might be one of those films. Neil over at The Fireglass Case has come face to face with these questions as a result of this movie. Neil records his thoughts and reactions to this movie and he has been moved.

I cannot remain on the sidelines anymore. I cannot pretend that terrible things are not happening in this world when its very obvious there are.

Certainly the movie set out to have an impact, but is it fair to do so then scroll the credits and thank you for your patronage wishing you to drive safely on your way home? How does a person deal with what they are just come face-to-face with? Neil considers:

I cannot stand by any longer but I know not where to go, only that I must go.

So, is this film sincere social action or merely emotional manipulation? Is this movie intended to stir the passion of people for good or to soothe the consciences of filmmakers as they consider their worth? Do these questions even matter if I daily walk past God’s children in need?

Too Much Information

I have been following the daily diary entries of Samuel Pepys for some time now. He’s a 17th century ‘blogger’ from England who began today’s entry as follows:

Wednesday 16 April 1662:

Up early and took my physique; it wrought all the morning well….

I have read many blogs where personal information is shared, but… oh my! [img]http://img117.exs.cx/img117/5601/n1qshok.gif[/img]

So Many Blogs

I forget how I came upon Bloglines but it was not long after I began blogging. Bloglines is technically an aggregator. It takes those syndication feeds that you see on so many websites (RSS, Atom, XML) and monitors them for new posts and aggregates them into a nice user interface so that you are only presented with the updated sites. It also allows you to publish the list of site that you monitor onto your own website/blog. Bloglines requires that you set up a free account in order to aggregate feeds. The process is painless and you even get a free blog in the deal. I have not used mine, but it is there no less. Here is a screenshot when I first checked my feeds this evening:

Bloglines Screenshot

Notice in the left pane I am presented only with blogs that have new posts. I’m told how many new posts there are and by clicking on the blog name, the new posts are displayed in the right pane. Depending on how the feed is setup and also on my settings in bloglines, I am either presented with the entire post or just a teaser. By clicking on the post title in the right pane, another window (a new tab in the really cool browsers) opens displaying the permalink of that post. This is great if you want to go ahead and comment on that particular post. You can also click on the particular blogs name in the right pane and open the blog itself. I do most of my blog reading right in the bloglines interface.

Now, to aggregate blogs into your bloglines account you must subscribe to your blogs of choice. You can do this by entering a blog’s URL into bloglines directly or by using a neat little plug-in that adds a ‘subscribe to’ option in your context menu (right click). Some Bloglines users include a ‘subcribe with Bloglines’ button on their site — bottom right column of mine. You have a choice of subscribing to a blog as public or private. You can only publish public subscriptions, surprise, surprise. You can also place the subscription into a particular folder and you can then publish per folder. This allows you to effectively build multiple blog lists. To publish your blog list(s) you click on the share tab and answer some questions and build the html code to place into your blog.

Another really cool feature is the clippings option. If I am reading a particularly interesting post I can clip it to my clipping tab and then return to it whenever I get around to consider it more deeply or perhaps blog on it myself. Also, there is a notifier that you can use in your browser that places a blue B in the lower right of your browser. If the blue B also has a red dot there are new posts to read.

Another feature you might find interesting is creating email subscriptions. This allows you to create an unlimited number of Bloglines email addresses that will show up in your subscription list. Be careful as these are not your typical email addresses. If you unsubscribe to any of the email addresses they become invalid.

One final plus is the fact that Bloglines is web-based which means I can access my account from any computer with web access and no special software is required.

There is one thing I need to point out that is somewhat a downer and that is staying in touch with comments. I must make the effort to revisit blogs where I have been following any comments. While this is certainly not a huge matter, I’m sure I have missed follow up comments because I have forgotten to check back.

Overall I am very pleased with Bloglines and would recommend it to anyone trying to following several different blogs regularly. If you have not already, give Bloglines a try and let me know how it goes.

Death

I read a very moving account of death, or rather dealing with the dead, today at Velveteen Rabbi. In her post Facing impermanence Rachel shares a very intimate encounter with taharah (the traditional Jewish process for preparing the deceased for burial). Rachel was asked to help prepare the body of an elderly lady for burial. This process is typically performed by well respected people of the deceased’s community. The following are some snippets of Rachel’s account of the taharah. While there initially is a sense of apprehension you find that as the taharah proceeds she is “strangely calm”.

It’s one thing to contemplate why the Torah tells us that touching a corpse makes one tamei but the act of preparing a dead body for burial is the ultimate act of taharah; it’s another thing to face that reality in an embodied way.

Jewish tradition teaches that the body of someone who has died must be treated like the sacred vessel that it has been, and pre-funeral practices grow out of the principle of kavod ha-meit, honoring the dead.

Sprinkle sand from the Mount of Olives on her eyes, then don the facecloth and bonnet. Tie every set of strings so that the loops form a letter shin, representing Shaddai, a name of God.

The sand we trickled onto her eyelids was pale and golden, and somehow that was the moment when the irreversibility of the process hit me. It reminded me of the morning blessing praising God Who removes sleep from our eyes and slumber from our eyelids. Some say the Jerusalem sand is used so that the first thing she “sees” in the World to Come will be the soil of the holy land, but to me it felt like we were providing the flipside to that morning blessing. In this embodied life we thank God for opening our eyes; now we were marking the closing of her physical eyes. Maybe her neshama no longer needed eyes to see.

I felt strangely calm throughout. It was strange, seeing a body with no soul in it; stranger still to wash her, an act that seemed impossibly intimate; but I was okay. I felt an outpouring of tenderness, occasionally giving in to the impulse to stroke her hair or her arm, thinking, “it’s okay, dear. We’re here. You’re okay.”

A little awkwardly we lifted her and placed her atop the white sheet we had laid over the plain pine box, and wrapped the sheet over her, and then, suddenly, out of the blue, I was shaking with silent tears. I leaned on the edge of the coffin of a woman I had never known, and understood what we had done for her, and wept and wept.

I am struck by the contrast in the intimacy with which this community does this for each other versus the sterile, impersonal approach of most Christian funeral preparations. We hire a professional, with their catelogs of trinkets who likely never met the deceased, to preserve the body and attempt to present the body in such a way to appear familiar to loved ones. We parade by the casket telling ourselves, absent from the body … present with the Lord, paying our last respects to the deceased body laying there. This seems to me somewhat convoluted and a bit disjointed. Certainly not the “final act of respect towards someone who cannot conceivably repay it” as is the intention of the taharah.

Really Cool LwC Forums!

There are several new forums open for business on [url=http://lifewithchrist.org/]LwC[/url]. I encourage you to [url=http://lifewithchrist.org/modules/newbb/]check them out[/url]. There are 21 total, if I counted correctly, ranging in themes from [url=http://lifewithchrist.org/modules/newbb/viewforum.php?forum=7]Bible Study[/url] to [url=http://lifewithchrist.org/modules/newbb/viewforum.php?forum=10]Entertainment[/url]; from [url=http://lifewithchrist.org/modules/newbb/viewforum.php?forum=13]Homeschooling[/url] to [url=http://lifewithchrist.org/modules/newbb/viewforum.php?forum=3]Weblog Templating[/url]. There are several ministry related forums such as [url=http://lifewithchrist.org/modules/newbb/viewforum.php?forum=22]Worhip[/url] and [url=http://lifewithchrist.org/modules/newbb/viewforum.php?forum=12]Mission/Outreach[/url].
I think the forums on [url=http://lifewithchrist.org/]LwC[/url] will add to the growing sense of community at [url=http://lifewithchrist.org/]LwC[/url]. Right now things are quiet, but as word of them gets around I think they will liven right up! Now, if you only have time to check out one or two of the forums, allow me to recommend [url=http://lifewithchrist.org/modules/newbb/viewforum.php?forum=13]Homeschooling[/url] and [url=http://lifewithchrist.org/modules/newbb/viewforum.php?forum=14]Technology and Christian Life[/url]. The moderators are just the nicest people you’ll ever meet 😀