28 November 2007

Moral Compass

This is sure to offend and worry, but I'd like to hereby champion this small but reasonable blog post about The Golden Compass.  

Let us celebrate the imagination and guard our children with active instruction, not knee-jerk boycott.  Let every Christian be a cultural critic and a public philosopher, engaging the world (the kosmos) with compassion and information and wisdom . . . not an uninformed grinch or a prudish fearmonger, avoiding the world with anxiety and control and faithlessness.

26 November 2007

Dying Well

The good bits in this article are the names: Tanya O. Walker-Butts, Gaines C. McCorquodale, Loretta L. Pettway, and Dr. Sumpter D. Blackmon.  Apparently, everyone in Camden, Alabama, gives a middle initial when speaking with a reporter from the New York Times.

But the bad bits in the article start early, like the second paragraph:

Over the last eight years, the refusal of patients to die according to actuarial schedules has led the federal government to demand that hospices exceeding reimbursement limits repay hundreds of millions of dollars to Medicare.

Darn those patients, refusing to die on a timetable that would please insurance agencies.  Reminds me of that Monty Python skit: "I'm getting better!" the old man says.  "No you're not," says the Cleese character, who proceeds to beg the rotating "Bring Out Yer Dead" gatherer to help him a bit.  He finally agrees and finishes the elderly one off with a hit to the head.  

An unfortunate picture of our Medicare situation today, it seems.  Preferable to whack the ill prematurely on the head and lob them on top of the wheelbarrow with the rest of the dead than to provide help and care until the last natural day.

It seems rather grievous to me that we would not consider it a privilege to serve the dying.  A civilized society such as ours has ample resources; indeed, we are so technologically advanced that we have ample means to create the problem in the first place by medically prolonging life past when it wants to live.

Let us protect our elderly and care for the dying.  No unnecessary tubes or needles but simple, authentic service.  Hospice can be a true blessing, enabling the ill to celebrate their final days sometimes in their own homes but always with comfort.  What a wonder!  

So shame on Medicare for fleecing hospice providers just because they actually did a good job, continuing to care for the dying even when they refused to die.  And may we all instead show much mercy, learning to show such care to those around us.

14 November 2007

The Day Miss Phifer Became Mrs. Menefee

Last Saturday, the last Phifer woman gave up her maiden name and took on a new one.

We began at Debora David's Face to Face where we got our hair did and faces made to the tune of so much fun. Then to the ceremony site where we all got dressed (hello Spanx) and enjoyed Kevin Beasley's photojournalism: it felt tremendously glamorous to stand about and do normal things while someone else unobtrusively but constantly snapped photos.
After we were ready, we hopped over the puddles as we crossed to the shotgun house on the property and awaited our processional cues.But who can tell it all? The cast of characters is a start. Or the honoring toasts the bridesmaids gave at the rehearsal dinner, the skilled musicians, the festive dancing, the beautiful dress, the photogenic bride.
But then the most unique bits: how the mother of the bride made the ringbearer's pillow out of her wedding dress when she married our father, how our 11-month-old rode in a tulle-laden wagon as the ring bearer, how the bride wore our great-grandmother's aquamarine as is our tradition, how the bridesmaids outlasted everyone on the dance floor and even returned there by themselves after the bride and groom left while the coordinator began the picking up.

How the matron of honor was so delighted to stand by her sister and celebrate her all evening long. To celebrate her wedding and all marriage.

Mumble, mumble

Here's a nod to Myles' alter ego, whose new biopic "I'm Not There" I'm officially excited about . . . not least because it features Cate Blanchett as the young Bob Dylan. So that's two reasons why Myles is surely salivating for the movie. Wow.

08 November 2007

Glover praised by decrepit old man

According to the Shreveport Times, Mayor Cedric Glover gave a "well-delivered and comprehensive" State of the City address yesterday. At least, that's what former Mayor James Gardener thought, but his term ended fifty years ago, and things may have changed a little since then.

James Gardner, who served as Shreveport mayor from 1954 to 1958, said he felt optimistic about what Glover said about Cyber Command and his support for the initiative.

"I think he's doing well," Gardner said after noting Glover's address was well-delivered and comprehensive.
Gardner may be quite a fine man and a stellar former mayor, but if he is the best we have to critique the current mayor's speaking skills, then we are lacking. Even if he was a young mayor, he's pushing past 70 now. What he knows about the cyber command center brewing across the river also seems (therefore) doubtful. Nobody at Centenary can figure it out, so my bet wouldn't be on the senior ex-mayor.

But maybe I'm speaking out of turn. Wouldn't be the first time. Maybe Gardner is young, or a young 80. And maybe he is a cyber command genius. But the Times would do well to say so. As it is, their source made me guffaw rather than aw.

06 November 2007

Cognitive-behavior therapy: just another faith

"God wants us to become part of his redemption of a fallen world, not simply to manage our reactions," says Powlison in a beautiful, lengthy response to a probing comment on the piece linked below. Let us counsel each other toward activity and glory.

05 November 2007

Hold on to the weak

What a wonderful post by David Powlison over on the Between Two Worlds blog. Moves me toward words of gentleness and courage.

(The blog's link to the Mad TV sketch didn't work when I tried it, but you can see it here.)

04 November 2007

Sissies and the gospel

I have just commented on Denny Burk's blog, as he has been following John Piper's comments about women in combat. But I have a few more words to say than merely those. Here they are.

Whether or not Piper has appropriately made application of biblical manhood and womanhood to military combat, I do not quite know. But surely a man can be redeemed and indeed enact robust biblical manhood without taking up as his cause the issue of women in combat. Surely a man can be redeemed and enact robust biblical manhood while still pausing at the sound of an intruder because his black-belt wife could be a great helper when meeting that danger. Does such a man need to be called names by a humble and powerful preacher who frankly has bigger fish to fry?

I recall Myles telling me that Piper preached at Glorieta about how ridiculous he had thought an American couple who proudly celebrated their plans to retire and travel around the country in their RV to follow butterfly migrations. Such a thing would be marvelous to watch, and the journey would inspire much worship in the retirees, but Piper boldly declaimed that as a lifelong goal when the time and money required to do such could be used in much more specific gospel-promoting and Jesus-honoring ways.

So reading Piper's comments about wimps, focused on such a temporal issue as women in combat, makes me grimace. Even if we grant that the issue reflects a deeper heart issue, and even if we grant that the deeper heart issue is central to the gospel, name-calling seems ill-advised. And, as I say, I'm not sure I want to grant those other things.

Heaven forbid that my husband would think it more important to keep women out of combat than to love orphans. Or even to give a barbaric yawp of manhood when danger enters our front door than to extend the lovingkindness of undeserved forgiveness to that danger-bearing intruder.

Not that Piper would state such a preference either. Or that I would hold Micah back if he wanted to pummel an intruder. Or that he would ever pause with wonder if he or I should go, since his wife, unlike a certain martial artist I know (Cherish), will likely never have any sufficient skills to thwart any such danger.

My problem, then, is not with the complementarianism, nor with the underlying intent. Rather, my problem is with Piper's tone, which smacks of merely chauvinistic gender politics.

Having profited from so much of his teaching and writing, I gladly grant that he undoubtedly has sincere affection for our Lord's divine hierarchy at heart. And the cultural weakness of our men and women fairly in mind as well. But, please. These remarks are invitations to lambasting, along with unfair and out-of-context quotations that could put a shadow over his entire ministry. And that seems absurd.