To Honor and Serve
Jun 1st, 2008 by Sonja

Uncle Ralph

I have three blood uncles.  Two on my father’s side and one on my mother’s.  That’s two brothers to my dad and one brother to my mom.  All three served in the military.  Two (my dad’s brothers) served in World War II.  Interestingly, all of my uncles (by blood or marriage) served in the military.  In my generation, I can only think of three or four cousins (out of about 30) who served.

Yesterday Uncle Ralph, the younger of my dad’s two older brothers, came to town to visit the WWII Memorial.  He came with other WWII veterans in Connecticut and Massachusetts to visit the memorial.  It’s part of a private program that is working diligently to get WWII vets to the memorial before they pass on.  As Uncle Ralph told me yesterday, there are only 10% of the veteran’s left alive today.  One of my older cousins arranged to get my uncle in the program and was his guardian for the trip.

As a pacifist by nature and by choice, I struggle with war and the need for it.  I want to negotiate with evil and find compromises.  I’m not always certain that is possible.  Even though it is my choice.  When I heard about the building of the WWII Memorial I was saddened by the glorification of war.  When I heard about busing vets in to this mecca of war for one last visit, I was cynical.  But our visit there yesterday changed much of that for me.

It was chaotic and messy and slow and hot and beautiful and gracious and happy and the smiles that wreathed those old faces were glorious.  These men (and a very occasional woman) knew how precious life is because life had been lost.  The drums of war were silent here and water in the fountains sprayed and tinkled, reminding us of life lived and worth living.  These were the faces of determination and perseverance in the face of adversity.

Adversity which was not glorified nor was it depicted as something to be put aside.  It is and was a part of life which creates character.  It was that voice that I heard when Uncle Ralph kindly refused the use of a wheelchair, “I never fell out of a 25 mile march and I’ll finish today, thank you, though.”  In his 80’s and he still has something to finish and learn.

I hope I end like that.

Human Wrongs (May Synchroblog – Bloggers Unite For Human Rights)
May 15th, 2008 by Sonja

Bloggers UniteThis month we Synchrobloggers have joined forces with Bloggers Unite For Human Rights and are blogging about our thoughts concerning a Christian response to humanly inspired evil in the world.

As I thought about this topic over the past couple of weeks, I wanted to simply use Jesus’ words about murder, lust and love in His most famous Sermon showing us His glimmering, shining Kingdom on a Hill. But those have been twisted over the intervening centuries. And lost their power to those who will not hear.

I thought about using Paul’s words as he echo’s Jesus. But those too have been mangled and lost over the interveningcenturies. They have been dulled to those who will not hear.

I thought about using Peter’s words as he too was shown the way of Jesus … made vulnerable in a harsh and cold world. But that way has been lost in the tangle of overgrown vines, stubbly rocks and slippery mud.

We cannot hear the clarion call of freedom, we cannot see the tear stained faces of broken Eikons, we cannot smell the top of a new born baby’s head … the hope and the freedom there, we cannot taste the rain on our tongues anymore. Of what good is the Gospel to us? If it is no good to us, then of what good is it to anyone? If we are unwilling to bring freedom to all, then we ourselves are bound up with those who are in chains.

Please check out what these other bloggers have written on this worthy subject:

Fun Things To Know and Tell – May Day Edition
May 1st, 2008 by Sonja

Happy May Day … this is my birth month and so I am always happy when May Day rolls around. It gives me an extra bounce. I love May. My lily-of-the-valley is blooming which seems appropriate. The lilac my dad gave me six years ago finally bloomed this year. It came to me in a half-pint milk carton and I had to put a little fence around it so that LightHusband wouldn’t mow it; that’s how little it was. Now it’s a full blown bush with lots of blooms.

Here’s the riddle that led to a discussion: What’s red and invisible? (answer at the bottom)

So the discussion is … there’s no word for the action that happens when you have a mouthful of something, and you are presented with something very hilarious. It takes you by surprise and, bam, the stuff in your mouth comes shooting out your nose. Here’s what my friend AleFifer had to say about it:

Ya know there’s no term for that… for having a beverage or food come out of your nose. Well maybe there is a word for it but I’m unaware of it. There definitely should be something in the mainstream vocabulary for it though as people do this often.

Hmmm…. what to call it. Nostriling? Susie nostriled her coke all over her shirt when Steve told that joke. Nyah, gotta be something better than ‘nostril’. Inhale Exhale In Out. hmmm you sip a drink sip backwards is ‘pis’ Susie pissed her coke all over her shirt… nyah. drink backwards is knird can’t use that ’cause ‘knird’ sounds too much like ‘nerd’ and we don’t want folks to be labeled as a nerd when they squirt stuff out their nose while laughing. Okay squirt, I said squirt. some word like squirt, spew, spray, pour, irrigate, drip, dribble but with a nasal flair to it. Hmmm maybe a nasal ‘flare’ …i don’t know which flair/flare to use with nostrils do you? Ya know, when you try to make your face look like an aroused bunny? What?? You don’t do that. Nevermindthen… where was I? Oh yeah putting a nostrilly tone on a squirty word. Maybe don’t need to. Maybe thinking of other words that mean nose. Well let’s see there’s … nose, honker, …um … nose …yeah I said nose already but I’m just stuck. Ah…. a term just came to me. Something related to vomiting. “Nosechuck”. Susie nosechucked her coke all over her shirt when Steve… Yeah, that’s better but not perfect.

I’ll have my subconscious mind work on it today and if it comes up with anything decent I’ll keep you informed so you can assist me in adding this needed new term to our vocabulary.

Me? I kinda like the idea of nosehurling, which he turned into “nurling.” So … what about you? What do you think? What’s a good word for it? With the onset of computer jokes and reading funny things on the screen (where we all know we should not be drinking and/or eating, but we do anyway) spewing stuff out our noses has become the symbol for something really funny, but we need a word for that.

Speaking of funny here’s a YouTube video about the Miley Cyrus who-haw that is not to be missed (ht bob carlton). Apparently she (of Hannah Montana fame) posed for some suggestive photographs for Vanity Fair and now a lot of people have their knickers in a wad. Here’s a choice that people forget they have. If a magazine is publishing photographs you don’t like, um … don’t buy it. It’s simple. And easy.

Some of you will remember this, others will just look on in wonder … but here are the 1970’s in full glorious color. I remember. Do you?

Here’s an incredible font resource that I have spent entirely too much time at lately (thanks to Jonathan Brink), but it’s all free!!

Here’s a really cool dinosaur museum and I want to go. PeregrineMan … we’re comin’ your way.

Courtesy of Scriber Thom Stark is Revolution in JesusLand, a blog by a former leftist organizer turned Christian progressive. I wish I’d known about this when I found faith, it might have saved me a lot of pain and anger now. Ce va. These two posts in particular are not to be missed, they are the first two in a series on how to save the world … the right way this time. I like this guy. The Next Step For Christian Big Thinkers – Part 1 and intro/translation for non-Christians before I get to part 2.

This last (and I’ve saved the very best for last) is rapidly becoming part of my life canon … and more on that in another post … is a powerful set of readings? poems? devotionals? I don’t know what to call these. But they are powerful and it’s quite possible that you will find them embracing you as you read them and my everlasting thanks to Bobbie at Emerging Sideways for pointing them out. Abre la puerta! (Open the door!) by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.

Riddle answer? No tomatoes …

We’re Cruising Now
Apr 3rd, 2008 by Sonja

My in-laws visited for a few days recently. They are snowbirds. That is, they spend several winter months in Florida in their motorhome and then return to Vermont for the remainder of the year. So they were visiting on their way back north. My mother-in-law (LightMIL) recently marked her 70th birthday, so we had a celebration with her while they were here.

We did this by taking her on a lunch cruise of the Potomac River to see the cherry blossoms.

at the lunch table

The boat docks at a pier in southwest DC. There’s only a very tiny little bit of DC that is southwest and this pier is in it. So is Fort McNair … the location of the National War College. It takes about an hour to get there from here, no matter how you cut it. We spent a fair portion of that hour in some heavy traffic going and coming. I entertain myself by reading bumperstickers and vanity plates when I’m in traffic. Especially here in the DC area, where I’m familiar with the surroundings (i.e. there’s not much interesting to look at).

I saw the usual number of intolerant bumper stickers. Things like “You can’t be both Catholic and Pro-life.” “Put the Christ back in Christmas.” “Man’s way leads to a hopeless end! God’s way leads to an endless hope!” I reflected, as I often do when I see these bumper stickers, with no little resentment and aggravation, what do the drivers of such cars hope to gain by bearing these stickers? To me (and it is possible that I’m wrong) these stickers seem arrogant, harsh, and hubristic. I don’t mean to pick on the Catholic stance on abortion in this instance, because there are many anti-abortion stickers out there. But all of them suppose that the bearer has thought through the issue most thoroughly, and you, dear reader of the bumper, have not. If you would simply accept the veracity of the sound-bite on the bumper you will be issued into a new level of truth and righteousness.

They also make me think of the nearly constant refrain that this is a “Christian nation.” Keep “under God,” in the Pledge of Allegiance … it’s very important. We must institute or keep prayer in our public schools; letting it go has been the downfall of our whole way of life. Or has it? Are we really a Christian nation? What would that really look like? Who would decide which brand of Christianity we would follow as a so-called Christian nation?

I think about those things. Because some versions of Christianity have a lot of rules. Some have much fewer. Who would decide? Typically the many rules version of a religion is the one that takes charge in a country, when there is a country ruled by religion. There was a time (back when I was in college studying anthropology) when I could tell you the reason for this. Now, I simply understand that it happens and grieve it. I was thinking about this as well the other night as I read toward the end of A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khalid Hosseini. (warning … spoiler alert)

A main character has killed her abusive husband. He had raped her, beaten her, withheld food and water, thrown her around like a rag doll and treated her worse than most of us treat our household pets for nearly 20 years. She killed him as he throttled her best and only friend. Killing her husband was an act in defense of another human being’s life, albeit a woman. What follows here is her sentencing by a Taliban court in Kabul:

“It does not frighten me to leave this life that my only son left five years ago, this life that insists we bear sorrow upon sorrow long after we can bear no more. No, I believe I shall gladly take my leave when the time comes.”

“What frightens me, hamshira, is the day God summons me before Him and asks, Why did you not do as I said, Mullah? Why did you not obey my laws? How shall I explain to Him, hamshira? What will be my defense for not heeding His commands? All I can do all any of us can do, in the time we are granted, is to go on abiding by the lsaws He has set for us. The clearer I see my end, hamshira, nearer I am to my day of reckoning, the more determined I grow to carry out His word. However painful it may prove.”

He shifted on his cushion and winced.

“I believe you when you say that your husband was a man of disagreeable temperament,” he resumed, fixing Mariam with his bespectacled eyes, his gaze both stern and compassionate. “But I cannot help but be disturbed by the brutality of your action, hamshira. I am troubled by what you have done; I am troubled that his little boy was crying for him upstairs when you did it.

“I am tired and dying, and I want to be merciful. I want to forgive you. But when God summons me and says, But it wasn’t for you to forgive, Mullah, what shall I say?”

His companions [2 other judges] nodded and looked at him with admiration.

“Something tells me you are not a wicked woman, hamshira. But you have done a wicked thing. And you must pay for this thing you have done. Shari’a is not vague on this matter. It says I must send you where I will soon join you myself.

“Do you understand, hamshira?”

Mariam looked down at her hands. She said she did.

I know a lot of people will read this and think things like well … that’s the Muslims … we Christians aren’t like that. We have grace, after all. Do we? How do you think this situation might have played out in a Christian court? I’m not certain it would have looked any different.

I ‘m glad we don’t live in a “Christian nation” but one that is guided by our First Amendment. A nation where Jews and Christians and Muslims and Hindus and Flying Spaghetti Monsters are all equal under the law. The idea of becoming a Christian nation frightens me, quite frankly. While I want to know that those who lead us have thought through their personal issues of faith, I also want them to be open and welcoming to members of other faiths. Thinking that one has all the answers to questions that haven’t been asked has no place in the government of an empire.

Creating Priorities
Feb 25th, 2008 by Sonja

Sheesh … it’s been quiet around here for the last couple of days. Where’ve I been anyway?

I went to the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival last Wednesday with BlazingEwe and didn’t get back til yesterday afternoon. We both had quilts hanging there. This was a first for us and quite exciting. We took classes; one that would help us be less precise and one that would help us be more precise. We’re so conflicted! Both teachers were very good, but we really connected with the second, who is about our age. We had lunch with her. Our teacher from last year remembered us and that was a thrill, too. All of this would be much more wonderful but for the fact that we’re usually the youngest women in these classes by about 20 years! So, we sorta stand out and not for our skill, technique, or talent. Perhaps it’s our charm.

In any case, you’ll see my quilt in next month’s issue of Porpoise Diving Life which is being guest edited in March by John Smulo. Porpoise Diving Life is always wonderful, but this year’s issues are a special treat because a group of us have gathered together to give Bill Dahl a sabbatical at his request. He’s writing a book and asked for some people to step forward so that he could focus his efforts. This month (February) is under the expert care and direction of Pam Hogeweide. In a future post, I’ll give you a list of the upcoming guest editors, so you can keep your eyes open. It promises to be a great year.

I came home from the festival with a renewed sense of how I want to organize and purpose my life. My path is still not clear, but I have a better sense of some of the things that need to be in each day. I know I need to have color and art be part of each day. I know I need to write each day as well. Perhaps doing these things will help the path become clear to me.

While we were in the hotel, BlazingEwe and I watched a fun movie called EdTV. It was an amusing, yet cutting, critique of our culture’s obsession with reality television. During one scene near the end, a friend of the main character was being interviewed on an Oprah Winfrey style show and he commented that, “I feel that Ed is the apotheosis of a prevailing American syndrome. It used to be that someone became famous because they were special. Now people are considered special just for being famous. Fame, itself, is now a moral good in this country. It’s its own virtue.”

That packs quite a punch … “Now people are considered special just for being famous. Fame, itself, is now a moral good in this country.”

Think about that for a while. Think about it in terms of the church in the western/industrialized hemisphere. Who do we follow and consider special? And why? Who floats to the top, and who wallows in the quagmire at the bottom? We like the Horatio Alger stories that it’s bootstraps, hard work, innovation and smarts that get people ahead in this country. It is our mythology that race, gender, poverty or a combination of those will not effect where we end up in this life.

So, why is this important? It is important because we are wired in some way to believe that those who are famous are leaders. They are the ones who have smarts, education, talent, or general chutzpah in some way that we should listen to. But should we? What if they’re just someone that an editor or producer thinks will sell?

To Guide and Direct
Jan 31st, 2008 by Sonja

A couple of weeks ago, my daughter’s hockey team played a double header on a Saturday afternoon. We had just enough time between games to take the team out to lunch at a local grill. We played a fairly local team from just south of here which we are well matched against. Everyone anticipated some good hockey, hard play and tough skating. There were all of those, and then there were hard knocks, rough language and downright bullying on the ice from the other team. We weren’t anticipating the latter. It spun our girls off balance for a good portion of the first game. Tempers flared, emotions spun and flew and a stick even waved once or twice.

The other team was significantly larger in stature than our team. This is not usually a problem. But it soon became clear that they had a significantly different standard of play than we do. Something was not adding up. Girls who usually skate well and keep their feet were on the ice often. Our team captain took a particularly hard check and was told to, “Stay down, b*tch!” as she lay prone on the ice.

Stay Down B*tch

We lost that first game, 2-1. We took the break, had lunch and refocused the girls on their task … play excellent hockey. CoachWonderWoman gave them excellent advice, “Pretend that the other team is speaking a foreign language and you can’t understand what they’re saying. The power of an insult is carried in it’s result … if you don’t respond, there is no power in the insult.” The team pulled it together after that in an amazing way. The insults had no power over them. The hard knocks continued, but tempers stayed in check. They maintained and they won the second game by one point.

It was a hard, hard day. It was difficult to watch as a parent. There were some brutal hits taken and our goalie was out for the following week with deep muscle bruising from the slashing she took. Hockey can be a rough game and I knew that when LightGirl signed up for it. But it can also be played with finesse, skill and especially good sportsmanship. Good sportsmanship was not in particular evidence that Saturday afternoon.

The girls have moved on since then, the parents have been processing. There has been discussion about whether or not to file an official protest concerning some aspects of the games. I’ve been doing some of that writing. Concensus has gathered around the idea that much of the responsibility for the atmosphere at both games lies with the officiating and with the coaching for the other team. We’ve been considering whether or not to officially complain about the lack of proper officiating at the games and in particular the first game. If proper sanctions been levied against the other team for some of their behavior, some of the injuries to our team might not have happened. Certainly, the excellence of play would have been more evident.

As I’ve been writing and preparing the formal complaint, I’ve also been reading the official rules of hockey. This has been a new education for me, which has been interesting in and of itself. But I was very interested to read the preamble to the rules:

The goal of USA Hockey is to promote a safe and positive playing environment for all participants while continuing to focus on skill development and enjoyment of the sport. All officials, coaches, players, parents, spectators and volunteers are encouraged to observe these “Points of Emphasis” when participating in the sport of ice hockey.

Fair Play and Respect
Fair play and respect are the backbone of any successful amateur sports program. In order for a positive environment to be created, it is imperative that all participants and spectators have respect for all players, coaches, officials administrators, spectators and the sport of hockey. Hockey is a game demanding high levels of concentration and skill.
Intimidation or “bullying” has no place in ice hockey. Any act that includes taunting or teasing of players, coaches, officials, or spectators by means of verbal ridicule, obscene gesture, threat of physical violence, or physical violence itself will not be tolerated at USA Hockey events.
Players are encouraged to develop a deep sense of respect for all (opponents and officials) while endeavoring to enjoy the sport and improve their playing ability. Each player is encouraged to use proper skill and technique when engaging in any type of body contact.
Coaches are responsible for instructing their players to play the sport in a safe and sportsmanlike manner. To that end, coaches are directed to teach only those skills necessary to allow for proper and legal body contact.
Officials should be diligent and confident when officiating the sport. Each official should enforce the playing rules fairly and respectfully.
Spectators are encouraged to support their teams while showing respect for all players, coaches, officials and other spectators.

The whole point of officials and coaches is to make the game safe, enjoyable and a learning experience for everyone. This ain’t pond hockey. It’s about winning, but more than that, it really is about how you play the game. The officials and coaches are there to ensure that a healthy, safe and positive environment is maintained for all players … not just the winning players.

I’ve been thinking about that lately for many reasons. But it came up especially yesterday as I stumbled into a brand new world. I was looking for a word that I couldn’t locate in my organic random access memory, so I Googled around to find it anyway. I found the word, and along the way I found this article – Grief Without God, by Carol A. Fiore. Ms. Fiore is a widow and an atheist. Her husband was a test pilot who died in a flight accident eight years ago. The article recounts the 36 days he spent in the hospital before he died and her experiences with people of faith during that time. To be blunt, they were not positive:

Before I arrived at the hospital just hours after the accident, Eric had been given the last rites by a Catholic priest. On whose authority? During the entire time I lived at the hospital I heard the following comments over and over: “God has a plan”, “God never gives us more than we can handle”, “Put your faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.” One respiratory therapist even told me that unless I prayed for Eric, he would die. She’d seen it happen before, she repeated. When the family doesn’t pray, the patient dies. Almost without exception, every single person who visited, called, or sent cards said the same thing “I’m praying for your husband.”

After Eric died I heard the same statements but with a new even more infuriating one thrown in: “He’s in a better place.” What place? He was dead! I can assure everyone that Eric loved life, his family, his job. There was no better place for him than right here. And what of God’s plan? Did these people really believe that their God was watching Eric, out of all the beings in the universe? If so, why didn’t he answer the prayers of more than half the city of Wichita? If there is a God and he has a plan, maybe this is what he was thinking:
Gee, I think I’ll cause a really great guy to crash on takeoff. He’s a test pilot who tries to make the skies safe for everyone, but just for fun I’ll cause the jet to stall, plow into the runway, and catch fire. Then, just to torture the wife, I’ll make her watch the test pilot suffer horrible injuries and burns for 36 days. Then as the final blow, I’ll make sure the small children are present at the moment of death so their lives will be screwed up forever. I will ignore their pleas not to let their Daddy die because hey, I’m God and I can do whatever I want.

I’d really encourage you to read her entire article. It is quite moving and her tribute to her husband is loving and beautiful. More than that, Ms. Fiore raises important questions about the nature of God and the nature of evil in the world which are not easily dismissed with platitudes and euphemisms.

As well, the way she was treated and the easy manner in which people of faith slipped God into a conversation with someone so obviously and decidedly uncomfortable with faith at a time when she was fragile and vulnerable teeters on the thin edge of being abusive. One can certainly look at this behavior and see spiritual manipulation afoot.

So, I’ve been thinking about the parallels between the physical bullying I saw on the ice that Saturday afternoon and the spiritual bullying we often participate in during life events. We think we’re justified because “souls are at risk.” But are they? What is our justification? Is this a game that we should win at all costs? What if our spiritual bullying ends up causing some to choose death? Have we won? Or lost? Who won in this case and who lost … really. Think about that for a minute. We are so caught up in our zero-sum games in our culture that we cannot conceive of a different outcome or a different kind of game.

As is the case with my daughter’s hockey team, it is the responsibility of the leaders and officials to guide and direct us into “fair play” and sportsmanlike behavior. We all need that in order level the playing field and create a positive environment for everyone. You are likely thinking to yourself that that sounds a little hokey right now. But consider this, the second commandment is to what? The second commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. We cannot continue playing zero-sum games and love others as we love ourselves, the two things are mutually exclusive. So we need leaders and officials who will teach us a new way to love others. Who will help us to define it. Then help us to carry it out.

It will not include platitudes, false hope, dishonesty or manipulation.

A Definition of Insanity
Jan 30th, 2008 by Sonja

I’ve had another theory about war and killing knocking around in my head for a number of years now about the difference between the army of empire/invasion and the army of defense. Take a look at the following images that I’ve taken from around the web (I’ve given credit for them) and I’ll explain my theory at the bottom.

Roman Army invading Britain
Roman Army invading Britain – ~55 CE

The Celts who defended Britain
The Celts who defended Britain ~55 CE

Battle of Bannockburn (1314)
Battle at Bannockburn – June 1314

Bannockburn Re-enactment ... Scottish Army
Bannockburn Re-enactment-Scottish Army

British Army during the American War of Independence
British Army in American War of Independence

American Militia during Revolutionary War
Militia in American Revolutionary War

American Army invading Iraq
American soldiers in Iraq

Iraqi Soldiers defending their country
Iraqi Soldiers Defending Their Country

I could have found and used a lot of other images from many other times in history, but these will do. You can do your own GoogleImage search for your favorite wars/battles and you will likely find similar results. Notice the similarities in the invading armies of empire.  Notice the similarities in the defending armies of the indigenous people.  There are many reasons for this.  Empires are well financed and can afford to outfit their soldiers well.  Their soldiers are much safer, have better equipment and arms than the soldiers of defense, for the most part.  It is in the empire’s interest to keep the indigenous people poor and ill-equipped.

Here’s another thing I don’t understand though.  The armies of empire almost always lose.  Oh, it takes a long, long time.  Sometimes longer than others.  But empires always crack and fall; indigenous populations survive.  It may take generations, but over time it is the indigenous people who will overcome the invaders.  There are very few cases where this has not been the case … but the reach of empire becomes over-extension.  The strain of maintaining force in too many places eventually cracks the foundations and the empire breaks apart.

One definition of insanity is repeating the same pattern of behavior over and over again, expecting a different result.  Yet, as a species, we do this.  We continually raise up empires and their armies, send them into foreign lands.  Then wonder why we cannot make the center hold.  What is wrong?  Why does our collective head hurt so badly?

I wonder what would happen if we tried something new?

Instead of sending armies of empire to quell unrest, tax, rape and pillage and behave brutally badly, I wonder what would happen if we simply decided to live well where we are?  What if all the countries did that?  I am aware that this is naive.  We are, however, at a rare point in history, with a rare confluence of circumstances.   What would happen if we decided to be good neighbors, instead of the mayor, police force and justice system all-in-one?

What if …

I Don’t Understand
Jan 29th, 2008 by Sonja

I don’t understand the taking of life.  Honestly, I don’t get it.  I become nauseated when I have to squish a spider or an insect … unless it’s a mosquito; mosquito’s get no quarter.  I’ve been wrestling with this lately.  Here’s how it’s been moshing around in my brain.

We watched Braveheart together for the first time as a family about a week ago.  The LightChildren did not see the end.  We stopped the movie at the scene in which William Wallace is captured.  That’s where it all ended for them.  I cannot even stomach that final scene, I was not going to visit it upon my sweet kids.

I was fascinated by the Battle of Stirling Bridge.  That’s the big battle between the Scots and British … the battle everafter referred to as the “Butt” Battle by the LightChildren, because it is the one preceded by a mooning of the British by the Scots with a salute by raising of the kilts and posteriors in such a way as to mock the British.  We all had a good laugh as we were intended to.

As the battle is filmed the camera cuts back and forth between the British soldiers and the Scottish warriors.  Here are some things I noted about the differences in the armies.  It’s something I’ve often pondered and when I think about it these are “rules” that go back to the dawn of time almost.  The British army (the invaders) were uniform.  They all wore the same thing.  They were heavily armored and protected.  Notably they were also cloned.  They weren’t actual clones, but their armor made them all look alike.  You could not tell one from another; they were faceless, nameless units of destruction and killing.  They operated on command and as a unit.  They did not move or react unless told to do so.

On the other hand the Scottish army was at the other end of the armed spectrum.  Every soldier was different.  They all carried different weapons; whatever they had in their home at the time they left.  The same for their armor, what little they had (hand shields for the most part).  Their primary source of energy was their wits.  They operated on a whim and on their hearts.

Now, here’s the meat of what I don’t understand.  The Scots were fighting to regain control of their land, lives and their freedom.  Those are things worth sacrificing your life for.  They are worth fighting for and risking your life for.  But I have never been able to understand how men (and now women) march into battle without those things at risk.  The British Army were not defending anything.  The men on the ground fighting risked punishment if they didn’t and dying if they did.  But, really, I’d take the punishment over dying.

I’m not saying this very well.  The powers that seek to gain empire are never the schmucks who do the actual fighting or take the actual risk.  The powers must seek out others to do their dirty work for them.  But there is nothing to be gained for those doing the dirty work, because the prize goes to the powers.  So, I’ve never understood how they go about getting the battle fought for empire.  I just don’t understand …

MLK Conversation and then some
Jan 25th, 2008 by Sonja

The other day I retold the story of a conversation between LightBoy and I about the difference between freedom and justice.  He’s still mulling that over.  In the meantime, I gave him an assignment (LightGirl too).  They have to write a paper every two weeks.  Their current assignment is to write about William Wilberforce.  They can pick anything about him that they want.  Their last assignment was the Lewis and Clark Expedition.  LightBoy’s paper morphed into Benedict Arnold, but that’s okay.  Now they are researching the famous liberator.

LightBoy, “Dad, what’s hersey mean?”

“What?  How do you spell it?”

“h e a r s e y … I think.”

“Oh, that’s hearsay, and it means to overhear something and repeat it.”

LightBoy went back to the encyclopedia.  Pretty soon he came back, with the encyclopedia and a very dire look on his face.

“Dad!  I don’t think that’s what it means.  LOOK!”

burned at the stake

LightHusband looked at the picture and the word in question:

H E R E S Y.

And promptly explained the difference.

MLK Conversation
Jan 21st, 2008 by Sonja

“Mom, can I call PlusOneFriend and see if he can play today?  I’ve finished my Latin.”

Mom, distracted by writing a draft of a letter to the board of the hockey club about the atrocious behavior of the opposing team this weekend (but that’s another blog-post):  “Sure …. ”

“Good, what’s his number”

“Oh … no … wait a minute.  You can’t.  In an hour, you’re going with Dad to pick up LightGirl from her sleepover then the two of you have to pick up that trashdump you call a playroom.”

heavy sigh, stomping … muttering

“I thought Martin Luther King Day was about freedom!”

parental grinning and smirking …

“No, Martin Luther King Day is about justice.”

“Well, I’m not going to have any justice if I’m locked up in the playroom all day!!!!”  stomp stomp stomp

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