I have read the bible cover to cover once. I did it with varying levels of intention and attention. I now find myself a student in seminary, and my biblical familiarity is woefully lacking. Over the next several years my study will bring me familiarity with large swaths of it, however I felt it was time to read through it again. I recently entered the world of smartphones and quickly picked up and app You Version, which on New Years alerted me to a useful feature it has: plans. I have subscribed to the Bible in 90 days plan. As a big reader, the reading is not hard, but to challenge myself further I have undertaken to read it all aloud.
My first day the reading took a little under an hour. Genesis 1-16. Reading aloud is a fantastic way to experience any writings. Forever close to my hear will be story time, where my father read to me and my sister every night until we were well into elementary school. Even now reading the Hobbit recalls those nights. Reading the Bible aloud I instantly feel more a part of a tradition, as opposed to simply reading through a book.
The reading today took me through the story of Noah. I am always looking for little prayers and rituals which connect me moment to moment with God, and here is an easy one that quickly stood out to me. When they disembark from the ark, God promises not to strike down all living creatures again:
As long as earth endures:
seed-time and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night,
will never cease. (Genesis 8:22)
This is a simple rhyme opens many reactions. Above all it is hopeful. This I will take with me to say when I see a rainbow, or when I am wishing for a rainbow during the long wet winter of the pacific northwest.
This weekend on the Sunshine Coast we stumbled upon a message in a bottle on the beach! It was evocative and exciting, a romantic notion lived out. I was surprised when one person became anxious: “what if someone wrote it as their boat was sinking?” For others it was a minor novelty, and when we gathered to open it, there was little attention accorded to the ceremony.
Upon opening the bottle the strong smell of liquor wafted out, the bottle had not been rinsed before the message was inserted. We carefully pulled the damp paper from the bottle, fearing to destroy some integral part of the message. The message read:
We hope that your journey has been
as long and beautiful as ours.
“There is no key to happiness
the door is always open”
Our first thoughts of “what a nice thing to say,” quickly turned into “where did it come from?” Did it travel for miles, or only a couple hundred meters? We are left with a mystery in the form of a pleasant note, adding a touch of romance to a day at the beach.
Book inView: Seldom Disappointed by Tony Hillerman – Adoption
The political correctness movement of the 90′s is still with us, occasionally rearing its ridiculous head. Much of Hillerman’s writing and life revolved around the Navajo people so it is not suprising that he has a story to tell about how to refer to First Nations (seems to be a current favorite) people.
While in Santa Fe the Smithsonian established a division for artifacts from tribal history, and Hillerman was invited to sit on a panel to discuss the affairs of this new division.
“There were nine of us, I believe, representing Hopi, Navajo, Mescalero Apache, Taos, Cherokee, Choctaw, Modoc, and a couple from the Eastern tribes that had somehow escaped the total extermination policy of our British Ancestors. I sat as the Mongrel-American. One of the first questions from the audience was which title the panelists preferred.
The first respondent asked for a show of hands of those in the audience who hadn’t been born in the United States. Two hands appeared. Then all the rest of us here are Native Americans, said the Indian. We are all the offspring of immigrants. He said his people preferred to be identified as Modocs, but if you don’t know our tribe, call us Indians. So it went down the row, each respondent preferring his tribal name, saying Indians call each other Indians if they don’t know the tribe. The verdict was unanimous, with the Apache adding they were only thankful that Columbus was looking for India and not Turkey. The Cherokee noted that the real insult was to be called indigenous people. Since the Western Hemisphere had no native primates from which humanity descended, that suggested they had evolved from something else – perhaps coyotes – and w4ere not really human. The Navajo concluded this discussion by proposing that ll be happy Columbus hadn’t thought he’d landed on the Virgin Islands – a sample of the sense of humor that makes the Dineh my favorite folks.”
Hillerman shares that after having their first child, “destiny ruled that Anne was the only offspring nature would provide us, Marie and I decided to finish building our family by adoption.” For them, it seems it was that simple. As I entered my adult years and started considering the idea of children, I never thought of adoption. When I did, my first thought was: “I want to have MY children.” But what does that say about all the children who are adopted, or the parents who adopted them? Are they somehow less related? No! Was my perspective not very well thought out? Yes! My wanting “my own” children was something that came from not thinking about what that meant, it came from societal pressures, machismo, and a lack of trust in love. Certainly the journey of pregnancy would be missed with adoption, but everyday I make choices to pass some journeys so I might go on others. My want for my own biological child vs an adopted child has passed (though I’m not sure I want children at all yet!). In addition to knowing several people who were adopted and have relationships with their parents that are no different from non-adopted children, I now have the experience of a step family. I love them with all my heart, and they weren’t even my choice. Family has to do with loving each other, not what your gene sequence is.
Right now fertility clinics are a huge business. People spend years of waiting and thousands of dollars, without pursuing adoption. I certainly started from that perspective, but I know find that if my wife and I wanted to have children and weren’t able, the decision to adopt would be an easy one for me. When the Hillerman’s were building their family none of the modern fertility treatments were available, but it seems that they would nonetheless have headed quickly to adoption. The following is an exerpt which everyone who thinks about having children should read:
“…Marie and I hereby submit our answer to the universal question of those considerng adoption. The question concerns parental love for kids you haven’t produced yourselves. The answer is don’t worry about it. As veterans of raising both kinds we can testify that all of them provoke affection, irritation, worry, joy, dismay, care, pride, anger and, most of all, love. Each and every one of them is our child. Don’t try to tell us they had another set of parents. Nor need you worry about adding adoptees into an existing family. Each of our five was greeted with excitement and enthusiasm and had to tolerate being mothered and big-brothered by the siblings they’d joined.”
“It has occurred to me that social economists could learn something about measuring hard times by counting the ducks and geese surviving on state university ponds and the squirrel population in campus trees.”
- Tony Hillerman, Seldom Disappointed
In Hillerman’s very poor college days he had a friend and roommate who made squirrel stew on Sundays when they did not receive food from their dishwashing job. My first thought was, would I eat a squirrel? While I feel we eat far too much meat in our society, I do like to eat meat. I try to eat meat only once a day, I keep the serving size small, I buy organic free-range. So where do squirrels fit in? Squirrels are wild. I have no qualms about eating wild meat provided it is hunted in a sustainable way. Squirrels are a long way from endangered, and I think if given the opportunity I would give squirrel a try.
In england the burgeoning population of gray squirrels (introduced from North America) is threatening the native population of red squirrels (think Beatrix Potter). The governments solution is to cull the gray squirrels. Regardless of this being an ethical solution to the problem, it is certainly a good idea not to simply throw the dead squirrels away, but to eat the meat, and use the fur. The squirrel market is slowly growing in England, and I have to wonder how long before it starts popping up here.
For a basic overview of squirrels as food, check out this