Twaddle and a Confession
Dec 7th, 2007 by Sonja

I watch television. I watch it sort of a lot. A more accurate statement would be that I listen to it.

Mostly, I watch/listen to “Law & Order” and its iterations. And Cold Case. And Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) and its iterations. And now, The Closer (on TNT). I blame this fixation on my Grampa Naylor … he first got me hooked on Ironsides when I was little. We watched it together in his livingroom on the black and white television. Yeah! Justice for the little guy! Hah! Me and Gramps.

LightHusband tolerates this fixation. He claims that he does not watch television. Although he is in the room at the same time as I am. The television is on. He is following the plot line. Hmmmm. Interestingly, whenever I am gone in the evening I come home and the television is not off. If he does not watch television then it should be off. But it’s not. It’s on. He watches the most vile, bad (as in poorly done) sci-fi you can imagine. It’s amusing.

So that’s the confession … I am a smart-ish, funny-ish, educated, Jesus-following, television watcher. You heard it here first.
Now, here’s the twaddle.

Our home was originally built as a builder’s model. So we have some upgrades. One of them is that we have a gas fireplace in our family room. That’s nice at this time of year. Another is that we have “eye” above the fireplace. That’s not so wonderful. By “eye” I mean this. When our house was built it was sort of vogue to build these huge nooks above fireplaces so that you’d have a built-in spot for a television or entertainment unit of whatever sort. I hate that “eye.”

When we first moved in it seemed like a really wonderful feature. A defined space for the television. No more need for the somewhat broken, yet handmade entertainment unit (by LightHusband many moons ago). A spot for all the crap stuff.

You see, for all the television I watch, I really could not careless what sort of television I watch it on. As long as the picture is not fuzzy and I can see it … as in it’s bigger than say my laptop screen. I don’t need surround sound. I really don’t care. Really. I don’t.

LightHusband, on the other hand, does. Yeah … remember him? He’s the guy who does NOT watch television. It bugs him to no end that our television does NOT fill up the hole in the “eye.” That it doesn’t fit. That our crap stuff looks ugly up there. And … he wants a bigger, better picture. He says we can stream YouTube videos from our computers onto the dang thing.

Six years now we’ve been having a running argument about that dang “eye.” You may of course understand that I have used several other more colorful words in place of “dang” over the years. I am completely functional. I say we build some shelves in the back of the “eye” for our crap stuff. He says we can get a television that will replace all of our crap stuff and will be aesthetically more pleasing. But he doesn’t watch television. It’s a senseless silly argument. And not one that we spend a lot of time on … we use it more to poke fun at one another than anything else.

I have threatened to make a quilt to cover the “eye” with. He was less than impressed. He has threatened to just go buy a television with “his” bonus money. I was less than impressed. We give each other the flat eye look a lot in that case. You know the flat eye look. It’s the cartoon look where their eyes get flat on top. Well, people get that look too. The flat eye look … you’re pushing the envelope, but you’re not in trouble yet and you’re probably being funny too. But … watch it.

So why am I telling you all this? Because it’s been an ongoing argument for six years and I might be losing. I hate that. It goes against all of my standards for myself and I just had to say it somewhere. Getting a television that big is simply wasteful, verges on sinful and really feels like I’m condoning and becoming a part of the commercialism and etc. that I just do not want to be a part of. And I hate being a part of it. I don’t care what all the good reasons are … so now I’ve said all that in my outloud voice and I can be done with it.

Dec 6th, 2007 by Sonja

I’m crying, “Uncle.”

I have far too many unread items in my Googlereader.  Not nearly as many as some people claim to, but too many for my comfort level.

I have had an itchy rash for over a month.  It has been variously (and wrongly) diagnosed as a fungus and scabies.  Now it has been determined to be an allergic reaction of unknown origins … and I’m on steroids for it.  These interrupt my sleep.  On the other hand, this diagnosis seems to be correct and I’m no longer itching.  However, I’m concerned about the unknown origins part of that.  Because the allergen could still be around.  Then what?  Maybe it’s my children … they’ve been particularly reactive of late.  ;-)  Regardless, the constant itching has been making me extremely crabby … too crabby to write or think anything of substance.

I really, really want to make some Christmas presents.  Not out of any moral obligation or pressure.  But because I found a really cool idea and I have all the stuff already here and it would be so fun to do.  It just makes sense.  It is a case of all the planets lining up, except that all-important-one called “Time.”  Pheh.

In the middle of the night last night I began to write a beautiful post … in my head.  I’ve lost it now.  When I find it again, I will reconstruct it and post it.  I’ve been having some recall issues though, with the organic RAM that I use.  It’s flaky and getting flakier.  If any of you know of any add-ons that you use for your organic RAM, I’d appreciate the advice.  Mine only works on its own schedule.  Sometimes I try to boot it up and it takes a whole cup of coffee or more to get it going.  Then there are days when it refuses altogether.

So … we have more company coming (just for one night).  LightHusband’s company Christmas party is this evening.  My skin looks like battle terrain.  I’m not normally vain about anything except my hair, but neither do I want to look like a bubonic plague victim.  Our company are long-time friends and that will be fun.  My brain is refusing to work.  I just want to sew.  I do not want to itch.  Yep.  That about sums it up.

There will be something of substance here soon.  I promise.  I just don’t know when.  As soon as I can work out the bugs in my organic RAM.

Breath … breath … breath
Sep 6th, 2007 by Sonja

I have to keep reminding myself to breath. There just doesn’t seem to be time to do that. I’m running, running, running and getting nowhere fast.

A recap of the last three days.

Tuesday. Wake up at 4:30, pack the last few things. Shower. Get in the car and sit for 10 hours. Arrive at home at 3:30. Check the house … the house doesn’t look nearly as clean as I thought I’d left it. But it is … I’m just slightly neurotic. Unpack all the dirty clothes and sort into hampers with the LightChildren. Get back into the car with hockey gear. Go to hockey practice. Re-connect with team and parents. Make certain discoveries about a dinner of crow that I must eat. Return home for twenty minutes. Run out to another meeting til about 10:15. Second meeting a complete waste of time.

While en route to second meeting (this meeting is at Curves and is part of a non-diet guided eating program I am participating in), I see a very large and obese woman driving in a car near me. She is eating something scrumptious. I immediately become jealous and angry with her. What is WRONG with me? Now I’m jealous of large, overweight women?? Because they can eat whatever they want without dire consequences. I, on the other hand, suffer bags of hot nails when I eat scrumptious things. There is no justice. Not that I actually **want** to blow up like a blimp, but … you know … I also want some ice cream. I am having to face my inner demons of emotional eating. They are legion. When you really do only eat to live and can no longer use food as a tool to assuage every other emotion you have … well … then you have to actually feel the other emotions. It can get dicey. Let’s just also say that these last several days have been those particular days when a woman has *lots* of extra emotions to feel and leave it at that.

Wednesday. Wake up at 6 a.m. and wonder what on God’s green earth is wrong with me that I’m up so early. But I’m going to run with it. Make a “to do” list. It looks do-able. Start on the “to-do” list. Get side-tracked by breakfast. Get sidetracked again by attempting to locate cereal which was mis-packed from trip home. Continue this downward spiral. Eventually end up writing e-mail, making phone calls and then eating breakfast by 10 a.m. Remember that meal of crow? Yes. That too, was eaten on this fine morning.

Leave at 1 p.m. Take LightBoy to Latin class. Go to my counseling session. It was a good session. Several epiphanies were illuminated and I felt lighter. Return to pick up LightBoy and do some block design with BlazingEwe and another friend. This turned into some supportive counseling for all three of us. Return home. Turn around and take LightGirl to another session of hockey practice. Home by 9:30.

Today. Up at 6 again. Screw the to do list. It just highlights my shortcomings. Take LightGirl to her follow up orthopedist appointment. She has been released to full play. No goalie yet. She has to be able to drop and get up without using her stick for support (about another 4 to 6 weeks). Come home. Fight with the printer to print ONE page. Lose the fight. Go to Staples for school supplies and to laminate a couple of things. Fight with LightBoy over booksock. Win the fight. He pouts. Return home for lunch. Leave again for my annual physical. My doctor is very concerned that I have not been recuperating from my little bout with pancreatitis very well. She says I need to see the gastroenterologist … like … tomorrow. Not next month. So. I am. Return and spend time with Blazing Ewe. Go to grocery store. Have dinner. Fight with LightBoy over spinach salad. Win again. He doesn’t pout.

One interesting thing happened while I waited for my doctor’s appointment. There was a young boy about LightGirl’s age also in the waiting room. He had on a very nice pair of sneakers. He also had a cell phone. All of a sudden, I noticed he took off one of his shoes and put it on a chair. He stood up, backed away from the chair and took a photo of his shoe with the cell phone. Now … I don’t know about any of you … but I am dying to know why he took that photo. There just has to be a good story there.

Tomorrow, I go back to the doctors … the gastro’s at 8:15 a.m.

I just want to get into the school room and clean it up. I need to plan next week. I want to get some organizing done so we can get this show on the road. It’s just killing me. Maybe tomorrow afternoon.

It’s just been a killer re-entry … that’s all I can say.

Sep 3rd, 2007 by Sonja

We’re packing up and clearing out today.

We leave for home bright and early tomorrow morning.  We have to get back in time for hockey practice in the evening.

I’m not the biggest fan of packing.  I’m always sort of conflicted.  In the words of the Clash song …

“Should I stay or should I go now?”  Of course we must go.  But I always want to stay.

All The Rage
Aug 18th, 2007 by Sonja

Since it seems to be vogue these days …

Click to view my Personality Profile page

I’ve well-documented my INFP-ness.  But this description from the site above really gave me pause:

“An INFP’s feelings form the foundations of the individual. They are sacred and binding, in the sense that their emergence requires no further justification. An INFP’s feelings are often guarded, kept safe from attack and ridicule. Only a few, close confidants are permitted entrance into this domain.”

I would only add that when it becomes clear that an INFP’s confidence has been misplaced, the damage has long term effects.   When, as in my case, those confidants use an INFP’s feelings to their own ends … well … I’m still struggling with how to process that.  How to process the fact that something that forms my very foundations was used against me for another’s gain … in a church.  Nice (and she spits).
On to cheerier notes … there was also this, which I completely agreed with:

“Their job must be fun, although not raucous, and it must be meaningful to them. They need a strong purpose in their work. They want to be recognized and valued, without undue attention given to them. They may become embarrassed when made the center of attention. As a result, they may undersell their strengths in order to avoid being singled out and made to feel conspicuous. They would rather have their worth be noticed gradually over time.”

LightGirl took the test and she’s an ENFP.  Well … she’s only 13 and that is likely to change.  But maybe not.  She is her father’s daughter and he is also an ENFP.

The Multi-Intelligences results were interesting but no surprise.

Gee … drugs turn your brain to mush.  I’m still waiting for my brain to come back.  So this will have to do in the meantime.

Vindication – And It Feels So Good!
Aug 16th, 2007 by Sonja

Back in the early ’90s I was pursuing a masters in secondary education.  I never quite finished it.  I’m lacking a couple of credits in geography.  Pheh!  BUT … during my pursuit of said degree, I had to take a course in called tests and measurements.  This was a thinly veiled statistics course about how to write standardized tests for your classes and why standardized tests could test all levels of learning.  Well.  As the daughter of a man who was a statistician for psychological research I knew quite a bit more about how and why statistics are used for these sorts of things than the average student.  As the daughter of a teacher I also had some very strong opinions about standardized tests.  I was also in my early 30s at the time, which was above the average age in the classroom.  I bet you can see where this is going 😉

The professor was of the very stern and unmoveable opinion that standardized tests could be used to test anything.  Anything at all.  Including the higher levels learning in Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives.  Yeah … I’m sure you know what that is.  Here’s the short course:

  1. Knowledge of terminology; specific facts; ways and means of dealing with specifics (conventions, trends and sequences, classifications and categories, criteria, methodology); universals and abstractions in a field (principles and generalizations, theories and structures):
    Knowledge is (here) defined as the remembering (recalling) of appropriate, previously learned information.

    • defines; describes; enumerates; identifies; labels; lists; matches; names; reads; records; reproduces; selects; states; views.
  2. Comprehension: Grasping (understanding) the meaning of informational materials.
    • classifies; cites; converts; describes; discusses; estimates; explains; generalizes; gives examples; makes sense out of; paraphrases; restates (in own words); summarizes; traces; understands.
  3. Application: The use of previously learned information in new and concrete situations to solve problems that have single or best answers.
    • acts; administers; articulates; assesses; charts; collects; computes; constructs; contributes; controls; determines; develops; discovers; establishes; extends; implements; includes; informs; instructs; operationalizes; participates; predicts; prepares; preserves; produces; projects; provides; relates; reports; shows; solves; teaches; transfers; uses; utilizes.
  4. Analysis: The breaking down of informational materials into their component parts, examining (and trying to understand the organizational structure of) such information to develop divergent conclusions by identifying motives or causes, making inferences, and/or finding evidence to support generalizations.
    • breaks down; correlates; diagrams; differentiates; discriminates; distinguishes; focuses; illustrates; infers; limits; outlines; points out; prioritizes; recognizes; separates; subdivides.
  5. Synthesis: Creatively or divergently applying prior knowledge and skills to produce a new or original whole.
    • adapts; anticipates; categorizes; collaborates; combines; communicates; compares; compiles; composes; contrasts; creates; designs; devises; expresses; facilitates; formulates; generates; incorporates; individualizes; initiates; integrates; intervenes; models; modifies; negotiates; plans; progresses; rearranges; reconstructs; reinforces; reorganizes; revises; structures; substitutes; validates.
  6. Evaluation: Judging the value of material based on personal values/opinions, resulting in an end product, with a given purpose, without real right or wrong answers.
    • appraises; compares & contrasts; concludes; criticizes; critiques; decides; defends; interprets; judges; justifies; reframes; supports.

Read those and try to imagine standardized tests that can really measure a person’s ability to “creatively or divergently apply prior knowledge and skills to produce a new or original whole.”  Or a person’s ability to “judge the value of material based on a personal values/opinions, resulting in an end product, with a given purpose, without real right or wrong answers.“  On a conservative estimate I’d say I argued (and lost) with the professor at least every other class period.  I think I scraped by on the skin of my teeth in that class because I just would not bend to his way of perceiving the world.  He was not happy when I raised my hand.

Standardized tests measure the ability of a person to take the test.  Get that?  If you do well on standardized tests, congratulations … you know how to take a test.  You’re not that smart, you just know how to find the right answers in the right amount of time.  You know how to sort facts and read.  Sorry to burst your bubble, but the evidence is now beginning to be out there that those who do well do so because … they can.  I’m one of you.  I’ve always done well on those tests, including the SAT.  My scores weren’t astronomical, but they were good, better than most.  I was very proud of them at the time.  Then I started to realize that I always did well on tests.  All the time.  It’s not because I’m so smart, it’s because I know how to take a test.  I know how to sort out the important stuff.  But did I learn the material?  Sometimes yes, sometimes no.  The reason for testing is to measure the amount of learning … but I was always doing just enough to take the test.

So why do I feel vindicated?  Read this article about why the SAT should be abolished.  It should be abolished because independent studies have shown that it’s ability to predict how well a student will do in college is nil; Educational Testing Services did their own studies and cannot refute those claims.  Students who do well on the test do so because they do well on tests; those who don’t, don’t do well on other tests.  Ce va.

Vagrant Thoughts
Aug 13th, 2007 by Sonja

So part of my recuperation seems to include taking baths. This is unusual for me. I’m a shower kinda gal. I don’t take baths. But baths help me relax while the pain meds take effect. The thing about pancreatitis is that it causes the sort of stomach pain that makes you want to cheerfully gut yourself. Cheerfully. Hari Kari begins to sound like a happy dance. As LightUncle1 said, “It’s like seasickness. First you’re afraid you won’t live. Then you’re afraid you will.” So, it takes a while for the pain meds to cut through all that and I’ve discovered that a bath helps relax. Admittedly, the pain is less and less each day. So it could just be that I am learning to enjoy baths … but … shhhh … that will be our secret.

I’ve discovered some things while taking baths. I’ve learned how to turn off the water with my feet. That was relatively simple, since I’m one of those prehensile folks who can pick up pencils with my toes. I still can’t open the drain with my toes, though. It’s one of those newfangled drains which require twisting and pulling simultaneously and I don’t have enough toe strength for that. I’ve learned that two ceramic tiles will come to the midpoint of my big toe … you know that place where your big toe is at it’s widest point? Just below the bottom of your toenail. One ceramic tile is approximately three-fourths of an inch wider than my foot at it’s widest point. This is why I fondly refer to my feet as dubble-wahd’s. It is also why I spend my life in Birkenstocks. My feet are not nearly as pretty as Grace’s.


Baths have given me time to reflect on some things that took place in the hospital this weekend. Hospitals are interesting places. Interesting the way a petri dish is interesting … stinky, fuzzy and of somewhat questionable character, but interesting nonetheless. Mind you, I had a fairly good hospital experience. Nothing terribly earth shattering happened.

Here’s the thing though. I never felt like I mattered. My health was not the end result that any one cared about. My health was fodder for paperwork, but whether or not I improved or not didn’t seem to matter. This became abundantly clear to me on Sunday morning when it was time for my pain meds, I made a call to the nursing station to ask for them. I was told they’d be right down. So I waited for several days that half hour and called again, whereupon I was told, “We’ll be down as soon as we can.” in a very sharp tone. After a couple more hours (alright … 10 minutes … I’m telling you what it felt like), a strange nurse came rushing and practically threw the pills at me saying, “Your nurse is too busy finishing her paperwork to bring these.” Oh well … next time, just bring the knife. Sorry to bust up her paperwork drill.

Too busy finishing up her paperwork to … um … I dunno … DO HER JOB. I rather thought the job of a nurse was to take care of sick people. But apparently it’s to fill out paperwork.

Earlier in the same shift the tech assigned to my room noted that I was running a fever of almost 102. She told me she’d tell my nurse so the nurse could handle it. Well the nurse never mentioned it to me. So I mentioned it to her. She looked me straight in the face and said, “Well, you know it’s very warm in here. I’m cold all the time, unless I’m here and then I’m warm, so I’m sure it’s just that.” I didn’t want to break it to her that we gave up being reptiles several million years ago … oh … and I was also to benumbed with dilaudid and illness to think that quickly. All I could think on the spot was, “Huh? Is this truly a health professional telling me I have a fever because I’m sitting in a warm room?? … That cannot be.” Then I became truly befuddled.

Through all of this I was hooked up to an IV of saline solution to make sure I was properly hydrated. This was started almost immediately upon my admittance to the ER. Since we had no idea that time how long this was going to last they put it in the regular place, the crook of my (left) elbow. Well, the machine to which I was hooked up stopped dripping every time I bent my arm past about 45 degrees. I bet you don’t know how often you bend your arm past 45 degrees. Yeah, I don’t know either. I just know I kept making that damn alarm go off. Now if I straightened my arm quickly enough the machine would start back up again without any assistance. But sometimes I didn’t make it into the magical space, so I’d have to call for someone to come in and reset the thing for me. I couldn’t go to the bathroom or leave my bed without someone coming in and helping me to unhook the IV unit so I could get past the foot of my bed. My roommate was more than confined to her bed, she was also cathatarized because of all of her issues. So … here we both were … two women confined to our beds. But here’s what I noticed. The nurses and techs would come into our rooms in the middle of the night and turn on the lights to do some thing that they needed to do. Now I understand that they very likely needed the lights to be on for whatever chore they were doing and I have no problem with that. But then, they’d leave the room and … LEAVE the LIGHTS ON. Just walk out. And we couldn’t do anything about it. Except call the station with a trivial complaint. Or walk into the room and leave without pulling the door to to keep the hall light out.

Interestingly, I did have two exceptions to this stunning array of efficiency. The nurse and tech who were on my case on Sunday morning were outstanding. They cared for me AND they were efficient. The tech came and took my vitals and asked me for the first time in two days if I’d like to bathe. Get clean? Wow, what a concept? I noticed that he asked my roommate as well. Then he helped her to do that very thing. Then he continued to unobtrusively check in on us more frequently during the morning than I’d seen any of the other techs during the entire time I’d been there. My nurse cared for me and mothered me … not in a smothering way, but in a way that conveyed her sense of caring and humanity. She smiled when she spoke to me and was kind. She was efficient, but not robotic.

By the way, the tech … he was Iranian. The nurse … from Ghana. Everyone else, American.

Increasingly, I’m finding in my own culture a focus on “the job.” We must “get the job done.” We have placed efficiency at the pinnacle of achievement in our society. Just how much can we squeeze into that manhour? Now let’s squeeze in some more. But what is the job of a hospital. Well, one would suppose it was to heal sick people. But not according to the experience I had this weekend. According to the experience I had, it is it keep the paperwork filled out properly. In every aspect of our lives there is paperwork which must be filled out properly. This has become so extensive that that filling out of paperwork becomes the job itself and people lose sight of what it is they’ve really signed up to do.

For instance, I’m pretty certain that every nurse who treated me went into nursing because she had a desire to treat sick people and bring them back to health. I equally sure that filling out paperwork had nothing to do her original desire. I would lay my last nickel on the fact that the nurse who was so busy filling out paperwork she couldn’t bring me my pain meds would be horrified if she were confronted with the reality of what she’d done. So, I’ve been ruminating as I relax in the tub about what has happened in our culture that allows us to treat people as cogs and stair steps underneath our feet? Why do we do this? It has become so ingrained in us that it is creating a culture of road rage, and Twinkie rage and all other sorts of rages. It has allowed us to dehumanize us to each other to the point where killing and maiming is just one more short step in some cases. I also know that this sense of dehumanizing has permeated the church allowing people to focus more on the task at hand than the people in front of them. I have no answers for this conundrum, just more to ruminate on.

Oh, and you can be thankful that I didn’t tell you the story of the physical therapist who came to help my roommate. The woman didn’t let a sentence go by where she didn’t say, “Praise the Lord,” or “God bless” … if I hadn’t been on so much anti-nausea meds, I might have thrown up. I did want to apologize to Roommate though for such a rude intrusion into her faith space.

Jul 1st, 2007 by Sonja

Here’s a fun fact about me:  I love patterns.  I love to find patterns in the way things move and the way people do things.  I love to find patterns in numbers.  I am always and forever on the search for patterns.  It is perhaps the one constant in my life.  An early example of this is that a best friend’s phone number was 229-0108.  Or, because we didn’t have to dial the first two numbers, it was 90108.  My grandmother’s zip code was 01089 and I could always remember both because the 9 just changed positions.  It was over 30 years ago, neither my best friend nor my grandmother have lived with those numbers for any of those 30 years, but I can still remember the numbers.  If I weren’t a Jesus follower, I would probably be heavily into numerology.  After my love affair with numbers, I discovered that people and the way the interact with other people could be described into patterns.  Those patterns are not as easily observed, nor are they as distinct, nor as rigid.  But still those patterns are there.

In a few days we have an auspicious date on the calendar.  July 7, 2007 or 07.07.07.  Or 7-7-7.  Now the number 7 seems to be something that is good in the Bible … it’s mentioned often in terms of forgiveness and jubilee.  I wonder if good things might happen on that day.  On the other hand, last year we had, June 6, 2006 or 06.06.06.  Or 6-6-6 which is sometimes associated with bad things in the Bible and nothing bad happened on that day.  So, I’m probably overreaching.  But it would be fun to have a day in which wonderful things happened.  A day of jubilee.  It is, however, a random day, assigned a number by a monk over a thousand years ago.  So, really, while it means something to us, it doesn’t mean anything in the grand scheme of life, the universe and everything.

How I Grew Up
Jun 16th, 2007 by Sonja

Listen carefully to the words …

This was filmed in my home town … and believe it or not … I do recognize every scene in the video, but not the main characters.  However, it wouldn’t surprise me if I discovered that I know them or someone related to them.  That’s how small the place is.

Yes, the capitol dome is plated with 14k gold.  That is true.  Yes, all the rednecks live in Barre (pronounced, barrie).  Everything else is pretty much true too.  This is just hilarious.

Slice It, Dice It, Anyway You Want It …
Jun 11th, 2007 by Sonja

I’ve been reading a new blog lately. It’s a guy out in California (I think). He’s got a unique perspective on life and Christianity. And definitely a unique presentation. His recent post, titled, “Big-Ass Bibles” was both amusing and thought-provoking. I enjoy his style and his topics.

In any case, in this recent post, he spoke frequently about some dispensationalist bibles he’d had and churches he’d been to. I’ve heard that term a lot during my journey, but I’ve never had a clear understanding of what it meant. So I finally looked it up myself. I’ve often asked others what it meant, but those definitions never stuck in my brain. When I do it myself, I tend to remember a little better. Just a little, mind you.

When I looked up dispensationalism in Wikipedia, I found the following description under history:

Dispensationalism was first introduced to North America by John Inglis (1813–1879), through a monthly magazine called Waymarks in the Wilderness (published intermittently between 1854 and 1872)[citation needed]. In 1866, Inglis organized the Believers’ Meeting for Bible Study, which introduced dispensationalist ideas to a small but influential circle of American evangelicals. After Inglis’ death, James H. Brookes (1830–1898), a pastor in St. Louis, organized the Niagara Bible Conference to continue the dissemination of dispensationalist ideas. Dispensationalism was boosted after Dwight L. Moody (1837–1899) learned of “dispensational truth” from an unidentified member of the Brethren in 1872. Moody became close to Brookes and other dispensationalists, and encouraged the spread of dispensationalism, but apparently never learned the nuances of the dispensationalist system. Dispensationalism began to evolve during this time, most significantly when a significant body of dispensationalists proposed the “post-tribulation” Rapture. Dispensationalist leaders in Moody’s circle include Reuben Archer Torrey (1856–1928), James M. Gray (1851–1925), Cyrus I. Scofield (1843–1921), William J. Erdman (1833–1923), A. C. Dixon (1854–1925), A. J. Gordon (1836–1895) and William Eugene Blackstone, author of the bestseller of the 1800s “Jesus is Coming” (Endorsed by Torrey and Erdman). These men were activist evangelists who promoted a host of Bible conferences and other missionary and evangelistic efforts. They also gave the dispensationalist movement institutional permanence by assuming leadership of the new independent Bible institutes such as the Moody Bible Institute (1886), the Bible Institute of Los Angeles—now Biola University (1907), and the Philadelphia College of the Bible—now Philadelphia Biblical University (1913). The network of related institutes that soon sprang up became the nucleus for the spread of American dispensationalism.

The energetic efforts of C. I. Scofield and his associates introduced dispensationalism to a wider audience in America and bestowed a measure of respectability through his Scofield Reference Bible. The publication of the Scofield Reference Bible in 1909 by the Oxford University Press was something of an innovative literary coup for the movement, since for the first time, overtly dispensationalist notes were added to the pages of the biblical text. The Scofield Reference Bible became the leading bible used by independent Evangelicals and Fundamentalists in the U.S. for the next sixty years. Evangelist and bible teacher Lewis Sperry Chafer (1871–1952), who was strongly influenced by C. I. Scofield, founded Dallas Theological Seminary in 1924, which has become the flagship of dispensationalism in America. The so-called “Grace Movement”, which began in the 1930s with the teaching ministries of J.C. O’Hair, Cornelius R. Stam, Henry Hudson and Charles Baker has been mischaracterized as “ultra” or “hyper” dispensationalism (an actual misnomer according to the etymology of the Greek word base for “dispensation”). The contrasts between law and grace, prophecy and mystery, Israel and the church, the body of Christ were energized by Scofield, Barnhouse and Ironside in the hearts of these men and studied and proclaimed by O’Hair, Stam and a host of other “grace” teachers. Dispensationalism has come to dominate the American Evangelical scene, especially among nondenominational Bible churches, many Baptists, Armstrongists, and most Pentecostal and Charismatic groups.

Soooo …. read that little list of bona fides. Whew. It makes me tired. But here’s the thing. When I look at the time line and put it next to the time line of what was happening in U.S. secular culture at the time, I see that these men were doing the same thing in church/theology that the industrial barons were doing in industry … that is they were streamlining, standardizing, typing, instituting. They were making theology efficient. It happened throughout western Christendom … oh, excuse me, Protestant Christendom.

Please don’t think I’m picking on the dispensationalists.  They weren’t the only show in town to do this.  I think the millenialists did it too.  Or maybe they didn’t.  My point is this, it was culturally relevant during the latter part of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th to codify and systematize everything.  Everything included Christianity.  It’s how Darwin proved his theory of evolution.  It’s how Dewey created his decimal system for cataloging library books.  It’s how Piaget based his educational theory and Freud his psychiatric theory.  It’s how we manage our understanding of the life, the universe and everything today.

What we are discovering in many of these disciplines is that while systemization may work well in the hard sciences (i.e. the periodic table of elements for chemistry), the soft sciences must be more pliable and flexible.  The systems that people create look more like a dance than a chart.  Push button Y and reaction Z will not necessarily always happen.  We are finding that is particularly true in our public education system these days.  People are individuals and they learn in different manners.  Trying to force them to learn in lock step with thousands of others is creating a disaster on a large scale.

This is also particularly true in church and with God.  We are finding that there is a great deal more mystery  to God than was previously understood.  S/He cannot be reduced to a few propositional truths that are easily found in scripture.  While the Bible is God -breathed, we must never make the mistake of thinking that that is all there is to God.   We might have a few difficulties with our picture of God, because we don’t have all the clues.  In fact, I believe that the Apostle Paul said it best in I Corinthians, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face” … we don’t have it all yet, we just know a little.  There is more to come, a great deal more.  Relax, be still and know that S/He is God.  Everything else is just chafe.

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