Reflection: getting ready for New Years

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I really like New Years. Not so much as a festive occasion but as a new beginning.* It is one of the reasons why I am adamant about saying Happy Holidays through the month of December. For me, there is more than one "reason for the season," and I think the birth of Jesus and the birth of a new year are related. This blog entry will be some of my thoughts as I get ready to move into a new year as well as some texts that I'm finding useful this new year's season. There may be a follow up to this entry, or not, as the spirit moves.

New years is chance to pause, reflect, and assess where I'm at, how I am, and see who I am becoming. Maybe it's the Catholic in me, but a regular time for self reflection and confession does my soul good. I don't go in much for New Year's Resolutions but use the holiday as a time of reflection and a signpost in the path of my life. Even the weather cooperates with this mindset. The cold keeps me inside more often, and the snow and ice quiet the outside and require me to focus on walking, creating more space for reflection on my walks.

In thinking of the the past year and the year to come, I feel lucky to be able to use this time of year as a transition point. Within the coming year, there will be many new things in my life, a new job, a new degree program, and most likely a new city. In looking back, I look at the job that I left, and I see what I've taken from that experience, both good and not so good. In some ways, my self care skills have improved, but at the expense of others, I fear.

One thing that I've been reflecting on is how I view my overall mindset and sets of skills. I have noticed that I am shifting from the view of me being focused on organization and moving towards a focus of creation. I have also discovered that I've fallen away from something that energized me, teaching, and have found something else, making. Call it arts and crafts, DIY, tinkering, or living more self-sufficiently. I think of it as making. In the coming year, I want to continue making, and if an opportunity to teach presents itself, I will take that as well. The coming year will need to be a year of patience and preperation, as I realize that I am not in a place to have what I want, a clearly defined career path and a long term loving relationship.

So, with all of that in mind, here are four texts that I am finding useful to keep in the back of my mind.


Table by Edip Cansever, translated by Richard Tillinghast

A man filled with the gladness of living
Put his keys on the table,
Put flowers in a copper bowl there.
He put his eggs and milk on the table.
He put there the light that came in through the window,
Sound of a bicycle, sound of a spinning wheel.
The softness of bread and weather he put there.
On the table the man put
Things that happened in his mind.
What he wanted to do in life,
He put that there.
Those he loved, those he didn't love,
The man put them on the table too.
Three time three makes nine;
The man put nine on the table.

He was next to the window next to the sky;
He reached out and placed on the table endlessness.
So many days he had wanted to drink a beer!
He put on the table the pouring of that beer.
He placed there his sleep and his wakefulness;
His hunger and his fullness he placed there.

Now that's what I call a table!
It didn't complain at all about the load.
It wobbled once or twice, then stood firm.
The man kept piling things on.


An excerpt from Seventh Son, by Orson Scott Card. Page 129.

"It came together in Alvin's mind. The whole story that the Taleswapper was trying to tell. Alvin knew all kinds of opposites in the world: good and evil, light and dark, free and slave, love and hate. But deeper than all those opposites was making and unmaking. So deep that hardly anybody noticed that it was the most important opposite of all. But he noticed, and so that made the Unmaker his enemy. That's why the Unmaker came after him in his sleep. After all, Alvin had his knack. His knack for setting things in order, putting things in the shape they ought to be in."


Getting Back To Work, Part 1 from


Beating The Little Hater also from

That's all for now. I hope your new years is as transformative as I hope mine will be.

* as a party, New Years hasn't always treated me kindly. Rather, New Years has shown why I should stick to beer, because I have almost no ability to limit my alcoholic intake, as the toilets in the childhood house of a certain friend can attest.

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Poetry on the Pot

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"The Three Kings" by Muriel Spark

Where do we go from here?
We left our country,
Bore gifts,
Followed a star.
We were questioned.
We answered.
We reached our objective.
We enjoyed the trip.
Then we came back by a different way.
And now the people are demonstrating in the streets.
They say they don't need the Kings any more.
They did very well in our absence.
Everything was all right without us.
They are out on the streets with placards:
Wise Men? What's wise about them?
There are plenty of Wise Men,
And who needs them? -and so on.

Perhaps they will be better off without us,
But where do we go from here?

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Have yourself a Romantic Christmas?

Posted by Bushel Basket

This thought has been bouncing through my head for the last couple of weeks: when did Christmas become a romantic holiday? Various Christmas standards "Baby It's Cold Outside," "Let It Snow," and "All I Want for Christmas Is You," play this up, as do the movies "Love Actually," "An Affair To Remember," and to a lesser extent "It's A Wonderful Life."

To a certain extent, romantic feelings are to be expected. Christmas is about love which would include romantic love. But, my cynical guess is that it is also tied up with Christmas becoming a commercial holiday, mixed with a healthy dose of family politics. The drive to find the perfect gift only becomes more crucial when it is for a lover. In a marketing sense, how can any holiday be perfect without having the perfect someone to share it with? Of course, the reality of the first time a person brings their significant other home to meet the family has a lot of emotional weight behind it as well.

I'm sure my sensitivity is heightened by my single status and being the only one of my siblings without a long term partner. But Christmas, in my opinion, should be about the birth of Jesus, and secondarily about being with your family. It is an emotionally and sociologically loaded holiday already, and does not need to carry the added burden of another Valentine's Day. Just as Advent is about hope and love, so should this time be about be-ing. Being content, being happy, just letting things be as they are.

OK, end of rant.

I do wish all of you the Merriest of Holidays, whatever your faith or beliefs have you celebrate. Have a Merry Christmas, and a wonderful beginning to a new year.

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Visualization: Bible Edition

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Chris Harrison, a PhD student in Human-Computer Interaction at Carnegie Mellon University, has developed some very interesting data-crunching visualizations of the Bible. His images focus on cross referencing, social networks, and a distribution of names and places in the Bible.

This image was named one of the best science images of 2008 by the National Geographic News. His images are too intricate to experience via thumbnails, so please check out his work on his site.

Visualizing the Bible

For all you pastors, linguists and atheists out there, maybe these depictions will give you a different way to approach the text. But, the images are at least cool to look at.

If you are looking to kill a few minutes, I encourage you to take a look around the rest of the site. He's also a crafty, DIY kind of guy. His stuff is very interesting, and pushes art into the logic and world view of science.

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Biblical Literacy in the Age of Gay Marriage

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The cover story for the December 15 issue of Newsweek is a well written article about the biblical assumptions that underlie the Gay Marriage debate. The article goes more in depth than most news stories without going so deep that it would bore the non-theologian. Check it out here. It would be a good starting point for a Bible Study or general discussion. I know I plan on touching on some of these themes in the future, perhaps in pre-marital counseling. Gay or not, everyone should have a better idea of what the Bible does say about marriage before they enter into it themselves.

And, if reading a four page article is too daunting, check out this slightly more irreverent take on the same subject.

Thanks to Mark Winters for the Newsweek article. Check out his blog Liberal Believer here, or in my blog list to the right.

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New Layout

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Well, the majority of the revamping of the blog is over for now. I hope everyone likes the new layout, courtesy of It was fun learning more about html coding, though I still have a long way to go. If anyone out there would be willing to help me figure out one or two remaining items, please drop me a line.

Part of the revamp has also been cleaning up my RSS and email subscription services. Depending how you receive the feed for this blog, you may need to update your subscription. I will be updating the feeds between 5 and 6 p.m. CST and then posting another blog entry. If you don't receive another blog entry, you will need to update your feed. Please look to the far right of the blog for subscription links. Always remember, the web address is



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maintenance and tinkering

Posted by Bushel Basket

I apologize in advance if you get redundant posts, or other strange happenings. I'll be tinkering with the blog this weekend. I'm trying to improve readability and clean up some other issues.


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