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Showing posts from 2014

Christians in Iraq

I am embarrassed to say that, until recently, I didn't even know there were Christians living in Iraq.  Okay, that is not quite true.  I knew that there were Christians in Erbil because my husband spent a month or so there several years ago training museum conservators, and I remember his talking about the Christmas displays in some of the shops.  But I never thought much about the fact that there were Christians in what we in America tend to think of as a Muslim country.

Did you?  Do you now?  Have you seen the reports of the massacres?  The crucifixions?  The rapes?  Do you know that Christian houses are being marked with the sign of the Nazarene (ن) as a mark of shame?

What do we do about this, we in the West?  Where are the protests against the genocide?  Where is the outrage?  Some of my friends on Facebook changed their profile pictures to the sign, but that's about it.  Only occasionally have we mentioned the Christians being persecuted throughout the world in the pray…

O LORD, make haste to help me

Six years ago, when I started this blog, my first post was a prayer.  Now, after falling more or less silent for over a year, I find I would like to start blogging again, but I am afraid. Perhaps I should start yet another new blog, but that hasn't gone too well. I had such high hopes in starting this one, it has probably been a good thing that I haven't had much to say this past year. I am still waiting on the peer review reports on my book manuscript--it has been almost a year since I sent it in. I don't know whether this is usual in academic publishing for books, but it is still par for the course on articles. I have tried to keep writing this past year, and in fact have finished several other shorter pieces, but I am losing heart.  There is nothing worse for a writer than feeling like nobody is listening, nobody understands. My husband once told me that the Virgin Mary told him that she was my only proper audience. I need to keep writing for her. So, here is my prayer …

“Contraceptives or Abortion--Which Shall It Be?"

Apropos yesterday's Supreme Court opinion:

"When society holds up its hands in horror at the 'crime' of abortion, it forgets at whose door the first and principal responsibility for this practice rests.  Does anyone imagine that a woman would submit to abortion if not denied the knowledge of scientific, effective contraceptives?  Does anyone believe that physicians and midwives who perform abortions go from door to door soliciting patronage?  The abortionist could not continue his practice for twenty-four hours if it were not for the fact that women come desperately begging for such operations.  He could not stay out of jail a day if women did not so generally approve of his services as to hold his identity an open but seldom-betrayed secret.

"The question, then, is not whether family limitation should be practiced.  It is being practiced; it has been practiced for ages and it will always be practiced.  The question that society must answer is this: Shall family …

Lessons from the Dressing Room

I went shopping on Thursday to buy some new summer tops.  I went to the store that I usually go to for such clothing, confident that I would be able to find clothes that fit and looked good on me.  I knew what colors to look for and knew that I would have to spend some time trying things on, as nothing ever looks quite the same on the hanger as it does on.  And yet, even prepared for a long afternoon in the dressing room, it was still painful.

Painful, because I had to take my own clothes off in order to try on the new ones, every moment naked a chance to catch a glimpse of myself in the full-length mirrors under fluorescent lights.

Painful, because clothes that I had taken from the racks hopeful would look good on me didn't--quite the reverse.

Painful, because I had to do this over and over and over again.

Until I found a line of tops in colors that looked so good on me, I didn't notice the clothes any more.

When I got home, I posted this status on Facebook: "On the up …

Why I Choked

I have been meaning to write this post for over two weeks now.  It would have been better if I had been able to write it back on the day, but of course if I had been able to think clearly then, by definition I wouldn't have choked, so there you go.  Has it been long enough now for me to think rather than simply be overwhelmed by my emotions?  I can still see my opponent's face so clearly when we took off our masks and were signing the bout sheet after she had won.  She knew what she had done to me, and I knew what she knew she had done.  I still don't know how I am going to live that feeling down.

So let's start by making a list.  Why?!!! Why, why, why, why, why???--when I knew what kind of fencer she was, when I had in fact warmed up with her on that very day and so had some more recent information about how she was fencing, when I had just seen her beat someone whom I knew to be a stronger fencer than she (or, at least, than she had been until that day).  Well, there…

1 Corinthians 15:55

Where there's life, there's hope.  But is there hope in death?

A friend and colleague of mine died this past week of a cancer that was diagnosed less than six months ago, just after Thanksgiving.  Last autumn, she and a colleague took a group of students on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.  This spring, she is dead, leaving behind her father, her brother, her husband, and their two sons.  She was 53.

There is no logic in her death.  She was, in so many ways, the best of us, the most generous, the most giving, the most supportive, the calmest, always ready with a thoughtful word.  Thinking of her, what I remember best is her warmth, the gentleness of her voice, and her smile.  Although I saw her only infrequently after graduate school, she always gave the impression of having been thinking about me.     She had an almost magical ability to make one feel loved and respected and treasured.

And now she is dead.  I can only imagine what her family must be feeling if …

Achilles' Heel

Which is the true measure of my strength: that I cry when I choke (and did I choke on Sunday!), or that I get back on the strip even after humiliating myself in front of all of my friends and try again?

Growing up, it was regularly borne upon me that crying was the worst of failings, the greatest of sins, the true marker of my character.  "Why do you get so upset?  It's only [fill in the blank]."  "Don't upset Rachel, she can't take it." My siblings knew that I could always be counted upon to burst into tears of rage and frustration if they pushed me hard enough, at which the adults would sit round shaking their heads and saying, "Why can't she learn to control her temper?" and trying desperately to distance themselves from the storm.

It was humiliating.  Every time it happened, after the storm passed, I simply wanted to die, run away, get as far away from the things that had made me so panicky.  In my humiliation, all I could see was fail…

On Quitting

Right, so, that was painful.  And, yes, it still hurts, although it seems to be passing. But am I actually going to quit?

Yes and no. Yes, I need to quit, but, no, I probably won't. I'm not sure that this is entirely a good thing.

Where am I going with this thought?

I am still very, very tired from this past weekend.  I feel like a storm has blown through and there are still branches down in the street.  I am happy to have had the desire to blog again, at least briefly.  Will that last?  I don't know, but I realize that I actually hope so.

I don't like quitting.  And yet, it is an odd form of weakness not to be able to quit doing something that hurts so very much.  Why don't I just run away?

I meant this post to be a little more philosophical, not just ramblings, but not having blogged in so long, maybe this is what I need to do.  Just sit down at the page and....  And what?

What is the difference between quitting and failure?  When I say I don't like quittin…

So Long, and Thanks for All the Bouts

Something died in me this weekend.  It was the spring Veterans' NAC.  All the usual suspects, plus a few new faces.  I fenced brilliantly in both my pools: 4-1 on Friday in Veteran Women 40-49 foil, 5-1 yesterday in Veteran Women Combined foil.  On Friday I placed 4th out of the pools overall; on Sunday I tied for 6th.  And then I blew it.  TWICE.  I lost my first DE on Friday 8-10, thus losing my place in the medal round (top 8).  And I lost my second DE yesterday, again 8-10, again losing my place in the medal round--the first time ever in Vet Combined that I even had a place to lose after the pools.  And that basically broke my heart.

One of my friends was watching the Veteran Women Foil Team finals with me on Saturday, and he said something about fencing being a fickle sport.  Fickle is exactly the word--and its god is Loki.  No matter what kind of offerings you bring to the god, he will cheat and trick and lie to you.  Nothing that you do can appease him if he is in the mood …