Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Shutter Bug

Well, my camera died last week. I was just learning to post photos too!  Fortunately I got an early Christmas present... a new camera. 

Unfortunately, it has taken me a few days to get used to it nd there is still a lot to learn.  One must read all the directions and figure out all that stuff in the box.  That is a lot of time and effort! I got the quick guide mastered, and now I have to tackle the rest of the box and thid during such a busy holiday season.

The new camera is also not as big as the last one, I am a little afraid I will loose it, but I am also looking forward to the ease of portability and learning to use some of the newer features, but it;s just not the same.  My other camera was a fantastic camera.  It might be an easy fix, but being a bit of a shutterbug, I need a camera.  I try to take pictures of life as it passes by, at least some of the more memorable moments.

I was extremely bummed about missing photos of Merrilee's and most traditional, Christmas party, and then of course the gingerbread outing at the Davenport Hotel... though I did resort to my telephone.   I would have loved to have pictures of our Antique Adventures on Monroe, (I am ready for the next time!) and pictures of friends at Jenny's Christmas party for the girls.  It has been quite a sad week on the photo front.... but that's okay, I have pictures in my mind, memories that I will certainly cherish, but nothing I can really share in print.  I am, however, ready for the future because now  I have a new camera.

I tell you what, it's tough being a shutter bug with a broken camera!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Words Falling on Deaf Ears

 Amos 8:11
"The days are coming," declares the Sovereign LORD,
       "when I will send a famine through the land—
       not a famine of food or a thirst for water,
       but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD.

Freedom of Speech....
perhaps there is no greater freedom. 
I just watched a video of ABC News (John Stossel reporting on the program 20/20) called, "You Can't Say That! What's Happening to Free Speech?" that aired originally on 7/27/00.  Great piece of news and information, if you are interested in exploring this topic with your mind.  You can't watch it on the internet anymore that I can find, but you can order the DVD from several sources... (for one source, click the link above)  If you are interested in watching a clip, click here.  It's facinating and provocative for sure.

So what is happening?  I want to know.... to consider.

I was amazed as I watched this film, even stopped it from time to time to digest the impact of it all.  Some of the things taking place on the screen before my eyes was hard to take in, to understand.   I had to consider, " What is freedom?"   I live in America, land of the "free,"I should know what freedom is...  right?


It's a hard thing to even fathom in my opinion, maybe because we take it for granted.. maybe we could loose it.  Maybe one does not understand it until they loose it.  

The film looked at the concept of freedom of speech in the light of some very interesting issues... like the government stopping people from publishing books that show how to make bombs... even though it doesn't take a rocket scientist to build it, and nearly anyone can find the information to do just that... after all, someone somewhere before has already thought it up..  They showed the police stopping rally's and speakers from saying what they want to say on public sidewalks, and things they want to express, There is no freedom of speech it this... is there?  Should there be?

How about freedom to express hatred for America, what about people using their freedom...  to burn the American flag, and this on American soil?  It's only a flag... right?  Personally I see the burning of the flag as more than words... this is an action, much more than merely words... but then words have meaning and can provoke people to action.  

Freedom of speech, is it a God given right?  Can it be taken away?  Should our speech be restrained , and by what or by whom? 

Freedom of Speech... the freedom to say what we want to...
This program also showed the issue of a man on death row, petitioning, not to escape his punishment for his crime, but for the right to have some last words before his execution.... a "right" that had been taken away by law.  He was not going to be allowed to speak his mind and heart, his last words, before being killed as punishment for his horrific crimes.  

What about profanity?  The film looked at the issue of free speech in a bar, (the government came in and told the owner it was punishable by law to use profanity in his place of business; his private property...  his costumoers choice to be there, or not.)  The film looked at free speech over the airwaves... (George Carlin style.) It investigated freedom of speech on college campuses (where people are not free to say what they think,) and in the workplace, highlighting how monetary awards in sexual harassment lawsuits are causing companies to censor any and everything that might be offensive to someone somewhere, (because the law is that the "offensiveness" is (apparently) in the ears of the hearer. 

It made me think of a verse;

Psalm 119:165
" Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble." (NIV)

"Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them."  (KJV)

I thought perhaps the man at the end of the film said the most provocative thing when he expressed his thought; he said that it was a disaster for a country who's souls is freedom, to think that this thing called freedom is less important than "not being offended." 

The question is, are you willing to let others offend you with their words?  How many times?  To what extent?  Will you give others the freedom to offend you or will you be restrained like them by law so that no one anywhere, anytime, will possibly find offense in your own words?

John Stossel himself, using examples of people saying and writing things which he would consider bad things about him, offensive things,  pointed out that these words (the things people say) certainly do have an opportunity to offend him, maybe even sometimes "hurt his feelings;" but he said that he believes people have a right to say them just the same.

Am I easily offended? If I am offended, will I forgive... and how much will I tolerate before I get angry and react in some unkind way to mere words?  I wonder too, if I really value this thing called "freedom," better yet, I wonder if I really understand what freedom really means.  Am I "free?"   

According to wordnetdaily, freedom means, "the condition of being free; the power to act or speak or think without externally imposed restraint."Another, definition says, "free from confinement," "not under compulsion or restraint, " "the ability to act at will," and "not controlled by obligation or the will of another."  But surely, not everyone who is "free" can simply do what they want to... can they?

Interesting concept isn't it:  Just let people decide for themselves how they behave.  I think you can only do that when people live in accordance with the laws of God, when they use their own restraint and do that which is good and right and true, and they do this not because they are forced to, but because something inside of them wants to please God.

When people refuse to restrain themselves from evil even the most sensible people see a need for law and order, protecting the life and rights of themselves or other from such things.  Unfortunately sensible people sometimes refuse to believe in God.  This is where we are today as America, once land of the free, is loosing freedom.  The current US President, Barak Obama has said that "America is no longer a Christian nation."   That took a bit of good ol American freedom for him to say that.  Truth is that our nation was once a Christian nation and we believed the Bible, looked to it for God's wisdom and light, people here recieved Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and sought the Holy Spirit in their lives.  but now we see a lot of people who are unable to show restraint regarding evil, mostly because they have rejected the things of Almighty God.

Americans are showing more and more that they are willing to be shackled with all sorts of external restraints on what one can and cannot do.  They get angry that they are offended, but not God.  They are even willing to be shackled regarding what they, or others can, and cannot say.   Freedom of speech is foundational to the human spirit, foundational to God and, yes Mr. Obama, as you sit upon that velvet chair in the Oval office, remember that America has been a Christian nation.  We also have been free to speak, and we believe in freedom of the press...  I cannot help but wonder if this lack of freedom is exactly what you mean by "CHANGE."  Freedom, however is quite a valuable commodity and some do give their lives so that others can remain free from oppression.  Jesus himself died to set men and women free.

I think how perhaps it was that God intended from the very begining that humans would be FREE.  Even Adam and Eve of long ago got to choose for themselves what they would and would not do in the garden, they got to choose whom they would and would not listen to or not and whose words they would ultimately believe.  They were free, completely free, and this state of being as described for us as "very good."  They made a choice to change things and then they knew, just as God had warned.

America,  "One nation under God," makes this claim because God's law is not a burden to us.  Christian, because yes, we do believe on the one whom he sent, Jesus Christ, and believe God has jurisdiction above and over all.  Now we are told we are not a Christian nation and realize that the gospel to many is an offense.  Instead of Jesus they want new laws, laws limiting speech, laws they make themselves, determining, what can and cannot be said. 

I am particularly perplexed over the man in prison, incarcerated justly for the breaking of imperial laws.  He stands there, on death row, in handcuffs, claiming he deserves to exercise something we call "freedom of speech" before he is executed.  He wants the right to speak his mind, the right to ask for forgiveness, or to proclaim a cursing if he so desires and he says that he doesn't understand why such a liberty as this is taken away, and he is speaking out about it.  I find this most interesting.

There he is, bound in chains, confined by bars and walls, facing death, and rightly so.  It's interesting to me that freedom of speech is the very cry of this man's soul.  He say's it's only fair that he should have something to say at the end of his life, be giving the opportunity to breath his last words.  Perhaps he wants to know that at the very end, as in the beginning of his humans life when he was but a baby and he cried, he would be heard.

It give a greater picture in my mind to hearing and being heard, and it makes me wonder what it is like when words cannot be spoken.  What is it like when the cried of the human heart, our words fall on deaf ears.

Friday, December 4, 2009


Another hobby that I have is making these snowflake decorations.

These are made of paper and three-dimensional, and they are also pretty easy to do. I use computer paper.

The person who taught me how to make them is named Emily and she was ten or eleven years old at the time.  I have been making them ever since, usually around Christmas time, and I either give them as gifts to people or I use them as decorations.

The one in the photo is one I made last year.  It has been in my kitchen since, so it is a little bit out of it's original shape, but it gives you a good idea of what these snowflakes look like.  They are cool.

If you want to make your own there are instructions on the internet that I have found.  You can use these to make your own.  It's fun.