7 Quick Takes Friday #11




Check out the site above to see who started it all.  You can blame her for whatever follows.  On second thought, scratch that.  I’m sure she’s a nice lady, and she definitely has nothing to do with what follows.


1.
This is just an incredible work of art.  The woman won Ukraine’s Got Talent, and after watching this, you’ll understand why.


2.
In case blogging is no longer an adequate outlet for documenting your existence or keeping track of stuff that happens to you, you have another option.  A small camera that you can wear, and which will take pictures as often as once every 30 seconds.  You can store about 10 days worth of photos on the camera. 

I wonder about the legalities of something like this.  Do you need everyone in your life to sign release forms allowing you to use their images as you go about your daily routine?  I predict it here – this is gonna cause trouble.  Eventually. 


3.
A very articulate article by someone explaining their rationale for wanting to take their own life at some point in the future.  The author is a doctor who is suffering from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease).  It’s certainly a heartbreaking situation to be in – or to know someone who is in. 

But I still disagree with him.

I find it interesting that early in the article, he notes that he proudly wears an ALS bracelet with the words Never Give Up written on it.  And then in the very next paragraph, the very next sentence, he states that “That said, there will come a limit.”   No, actually.  Never implies that there is not a limit.  Never implies that you continue to fight – until death if necessary.  Never refuses to acknowledge a limit.  The irony is painful to read.

He talks a great deal about “quality of life”, and he has a way of defining this.  For him, it’s linked to a list of 100 things that he does in a typical day.  And as – one by one – he becomes unable to do these things, he has a way of quantifying his declining quality of life.  At a certain point, he will cross a line, and there will no longer be enough things on that list that he’s still able to do, and he’ll know that it’s time to take off the bracelet, essentially, and to give up.  On his terms.

But quality of life is somewhat arbitrary.  There were many years when he was unable to do any of the things on that 100 List.  As he was a baby, and a child, and a growing youth.  In those days there were undoubtedly far more things he couldn’t do than he could do – and yet we wouldn’t say that a child has a poor quality of life, would we?  Would we argue that the infant’s life isn’t worth living because they can’t do very many things?

Of course not.  But what’s the difference?  The difference is that as we gain self-awareness, we recognize that by and large we’re on a growth curve.  We gain and gain in abilities and knowledge and skills and all sorts of things.  Our life becomes characterized by the things that we are learning, have learned, know how to do, and be.  We assume that we are in charge, that we get to call the shots.  That we are the god of our life.  But at some point in every person’s life, that curve changes direction.  But just as we were not the ones to determine when and how we would enter this life, or what our parents would be like our how healthy our childhood would be, we don’t have the right to assume that we get to call the shots on how we leave.  We are forced to come to grips with the fact, finally in some instances, that we were never the god of our life.  Not the god who brought ourselves into being.  Not the god who coordinated all the details of our life.  Not the god who gets to decide on what terms we leave. 


4.
A fascinating presentation about the Vatican.  Always good to get an insider’s view of things. 


5.
I don’t have a problem agreeing that the earth appears to be getting warmer.  I’m not inclined to say there’s a global scientific conspiracy to lie about melting ice caps or rising ocean levels.  I do, however, think that this warming trend could be attributable to any number of other causes besides human pollution or industrial activities.

It would seem that, at least according to this poll, more folks are inclined to agree with me than would have a few years ago.
 
I think it’s a brilliant assessment at the end of the article.  People are changing their minds about global warming because of the economy.  Orrrrrr…how about they’re changing their minds on the likely cause of global warming because they’re tired of looking at news reports that talk about periods of intense warming in the earth’s past, when clearly mankind was not polluting  – or even in existence yet.  Perhaps people are connecting the intellectual dots to say that if the earth is getting warmer, it does not necessarily follow that we are the sole or primary cause for said warming. 

Kinda crazy, I know. 


6.
Another fine example of government forcing social and moral change down the throats of the constituency.  I’m not sure there’s much else to be said about this.



7.
I’ll leave you with a link to Advent Conspiracy – a Christian effort to direct people’s attention to the amount of money spent every Christmas season in the US ($450 billion), and to ask questions about whether or not this is really necessary. 

I don’t think that I’ll use this with my church this year.  First of all, I wouldn’t be able to swallow the irony that comes from telling people not to spend money on gifts, but rather spend money on this program, study guide, and DVDs.  If this group really wanted to be counter-cultural, they’d give their stuff away as an example of how to do what it is they’re asking others to do.

I agree that there are a lot of unnecessary gifts given at Christmas.  In part, that’s because the nature of a gift is often that it’s not necessary. If it were a necessary gift, it might be seen as less of a gift, and more of just filling a need.  It’s not inherently wrong to want to give gifts to your kids or family.  So how do we arrive at a way of determining when we’re giving excessively or not?  These are all good questions.  I encourage everyone to wrestle with them NOW, before we’re caught up in the mad holiday season. 






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3 Responses to “7 Quick Takes Friday #11”

  1. Marie Says:

    Went to the Advent site looking to find what I found — lots of great talk culminating in “donate money to a charity for Christmas.” I’m not anti-donation. But I think our national obsession with writing checks to nonprofit organizations is pretty related to our consumerist and materialist society, as well as to our stratified society where few of us who have means actually KNOW any poor people to help out in person. If the end game had been “go out and get to know your neighbors and if someone among them needs something you have, give it to them” that would sure be refreshing.

  2. Paul Nelson Says:

    Amen!  While we definitely have a role to play in helping people all over the world, writing a check doesn’t actually bring people face to face with suffering.  It doesn’t connect them in a meaningful way, so that they think twice the next time they set the thermostat, or go shopping for a new vehicle, or get ready to throw something in the trash that could be donated and reused.  Writing a check doesn’t change a person – because we write checks all the time.  Well, we used to.  Now we just point and click online or setup a recurring debit from our checking account – and we never have to think about anything at all.  I’m always reminded by C.S. Lewis’ thoughts in The Screwtape Letters, regarding how preferable it was, from the demonic point of view, to focus a Christian’s charitable thoughts on the people most far away from him, people she would never ever meet, and had no way of really knowing other than some sort of imaginative fashion.  So long as her thoughts were focused there, while he was still a complete jerk to the people he actually knew and interacted with each day, there was little threat (from the demonic perspective) from the Christian talk of loving your neighbor. 

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