Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I am inordinately proud of myself

Have any of you, dear readers, been paying attention to the word count on my sidebar?

It's right over there --------->
(and down a bit, at least until I write more posts and this one gets bumped.)

Well, my New Year's Resolution for 2008 was to write at least one chapter a month. I just wrote another chapter this afternoon, so I have successfully fulfilled my resolution. (I'll post the newest word count update in the morning.)

I don't know how many chapters I wrote in January and February, but going from March 1 onwards I wrote...12 chapters. So, I would have accomplished my New Year's Resolution even if I hadn't pecked out a few more chapters before that.

Anyhoo. The Novel currently has 33 chapters; it needs about six more to be finished. It's terribly unambitious of me, but I think my resolution for 2009 will be to write a chapter every 2 months. Or perhaps I will renew my chapter-a-month resolution and then rest on my laurels after the end of June.

Either way, I'm well on my way to writing a book. I'm no NaNoWriMo winner (*cough*Rebekah*cough*) but I'm still rather proud of myself.

(For those of you who don't know, I've been bouncing ideas for this novel for about 2 1/2 years and officially started writing in August 2007.)

What's in a name? (Two-year-old edition)

The Little Princess can say "Megan" now.

Admittedly, she's not that great on the G, so it sometimes comes out more like May-can, but it's decidedly not May-may.

I wasn't that disappointed when she stopped calling Scott May-may (He's 'Cott now), but I'm not sure how I feel about my own name change. I rather liked being May-may.

In related news: The lovely and brilliant Emily came to visit yesterday, and LP thinks she is Just About the Most Awesome Person Ever (I'm inclined to agree). After Em left, LP was wandering around the house calling, "Elmo? Elmo?"

I hope you like your new name, Emily.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

This Week's New Words

1. Mine. Usually said with great emphasis: "Miiiiiiiiiiine!"

2. I want. Usually said several times in a row. "Iwa Iwa Iwa Iwa!"

Yes, she's a toddler.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Perspective

It's not so much that He could commit evil, if you ask me, as that whatever He
could choose to do would by definition not be evil. However, on the receiving
end of the action is where things get tricky.


That's the beginning of a comment left by Shakespeare's Cobbler on my first post in the evil series. I won't quote it in its entirety because he does those 50-word sentences that only I read (because I love him :)).


It reminded me of something I'd read before during a discussion of whether the unbaptized can be saved: We are bound by the sacraments. God is not.

To use a more generally-applicable concept (because some of my small pool of readers are not Catholic): We are bound by the commandments. God is not.

Thou shalt not kill, He said--shortly after sending the Tenth Plague upon Egypt.

The Catholic Church teaches that abortion is wrong, in-vitro fertilization is wrong (see, the Pope doesn't want everyone to have 14 kids so that Catholics can take over the world.), murder is wrong, suicide is wrong, euthanasia is wrong. (This list is not meant to be exhaustive, just illustrative.) Why? Not so we can take over the world (As I already mentioned). Not so we can ruin everybody's fun. There are things the Church forbids simply because she acknowledges the fact that we do not have power over life and death.

God does. God can allow all kinds of things that seem to us to be unspeakably evil. Maybe they are not things that ought to have happened (so we blame Him--"the woman you put here with me..."), but that doesn't mean that God is either evil or powerless. Maybe our world really is shattered beyond repair, shards of blue and green glass lying beyond repair at the bottom of the universe, and from our perspective all is ruined.

Perhaps from God's perspective those little shards are simply the material He needs in order to make something beautiful.

Giggling down Memory Lane

The Princess and Dad have developed a game: She touches his toes, he shrieks. He does this because he is extremely ticklish. Now she seems to think that shrieking upon having one's toes touched is simply Something People Do. (Once she was entertaining us at dinner thus: "Foot! Toes! EEK!" Over and over.) This causes some problems for Mom, who is not at all ticklish and thus doesn't react when somebody touches her toes. She came to Dad the other day saying, "I have a feeling she's trying to play a game with me and I'm not doing it right."

This whole thing with ticklish toes reminded me of the Tickle Monster, who has not visited this house in a good 10 years or so. (Actually, he's never visited this house, since we only moved here 4 1/2 years ago.) Tickle Monster used to chase Kitty and I all over the master bedroom, regularly capturing one or both of us on the bed and tickling us silly. We knew how to subdue Tickle Monster, though. Whichever of us was willing to take the risk would sit on him (thus risking being tickled to death), while the other one would go to his feet, take off his socks (and shoes, if necessary) and tickle his feet until he begged for mercy.

Good times, those.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

She knows how this works

Before bed last night:

Princess, by the tree: "Open it? Open it?"

Mom: "Go to sleep first."

At 5:30 this morning:

Princess, sitting up in bed: "Open it? Open it?"

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Only at the Cobbler's house...

do you come downstairs in the morning to find your father and three brothers singing this over breakfast.

(I was highly amused, but then again I had already been up for 2 hours at that point. I think Almost-17-Year-Old would have preferred to eat his breakfast in peace and quiet.)

Friday, December 19, 2008

The cardinal difficulty in collaboration between the sexes

Me: "Kitty, can you get me another thing of this?" [pointing to empty milk jug]

Kitty: "Sure." [leaves]

Dad: "A gallon of milk?"

Me: "Yeah."

Dad: "That's what you want in English."

Me: "She understood me."

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Some thoughts on evil

In my next post I'd like to respond to a comment the Cobbler left on my last post, but in between I want to go on a little tangent.

Last week I explored the question of Can God commit evil working off the ontological definition of evil as the absence of good. Now I'd like to talk a little bit about the moral definition of evil--it doesn't have ontological existence (I agree with Plato there) but it does have moral existence; otherwise there would be no such thing as sin.

If I remember my Baltimore Catechism correctly, sin is anything which goes against the will of God.

It seems pretty obvious, working off that definition, that God cannot commit sin. He'd have to be going against His own will, and when you're omnipotent you don't exactly have to do anything you don't want to do.

Yet we have the power to go against His will. Have you ever thought about that? You can go against the wishes of an almighty being and usually you won't even get smitten off the face of the earth. Heady stuff, no?

Before I go, I think I should add that nothing that ever happens is outside the will of God. Yes, we can royally screw up His "Plan A", but God did not lose control when Eve ate the apple, and He is still in control. I don't have time to go into God's permissive will right now, but just bear that in mind. You can oppose God, but ultimately He wins. (So if you're thinking about using your nice free will to oppose Him, you might want to think again.)

More thoughts next week...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

You know you're tired...

when you start yelling at the television in Spanish.

Especially if Spanish isn't even your first language.

(I got 9 1/2 hours of sleep last night and feel much better. I think I was just unused to my bed or something.)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Mennonite, actually, but still

Mom: "Miller's Restaurant in Newark has free wi-fi now."

Me: "The Amish restaurant?"

Thursday, December 11, 2008

He is not a tame lion

In our last Honors session of the semester, we were discussing the Rule of St. Benedict, and naturally got into a discussion of free will, a topic which has been cropping up in many of our discussions this semester. Our professor likes to force us to climb out of our mental boxes (an exercise that I need), so she brought up the whole idea of God's free will. The question she presented to us was this: Can God commit evil?

It ended up almost being a conversation between me and her (actually, that happens a lot...it's bad when you're the teacher's pet in Honors). My brain had found an idea big enough for it to wrestle with, and it wanted to keep wrestling until it either got a good grip or was exhausted.

I don't have any grand conclusions to present before you, dear readers, but here are some things to think about:

Can we comfortably say, "God cannot"? It's a dangerous thing, methinks, to put limits on the Almighty. Yes, there are certain logical contradictions (like making a square circle) that it's simply nonsense to predicate to any being, almighty or no, but is "a God who can commit evil" a logical contradiction? It wasn't to the ancients. Read the Iliad sometime if you don't believe me. For that matter, read the Old Testament. Yes, we have ways of explaining all those "God was angry" passages, but let yourself look at it simply for a minute. It looks an awful lot like a God who has no compuctions about wiping people out if He so pleases. Do you think Joshua went to battle against the Canaanites thinking, "Oh, this is all allegorical, God is really unmoved by passions."

Our current definition of God borrows heavily from the Platonists. To them, evil wasn't a thing. Evil was what you got more of the farther you got from the One, until eventually you were sitting at the very bottom of the chain of being, in the utter evil of nothingness. It was those clever Greeks who first proposed that the Supreme Being is the perfection of goodness, and therefore if the Supreme Being were to commit evil it would cease to be all-good and thereby cease to be the Supreme Being. In other words, God is incapable of commiting evil.

I'm something of a Platonist myself, and I do like this definition, but I think we should be careful that we don't settle into complacency, protected from the power of God by our cozy logical formulae. I believe (in the firmest sense of the word) that God would never commit evil, but to say that He could not is a tricky thing.

As Mr. Tumnus might say, he is not a tame lion.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Encore

Morgan: "Do you want a Protestant Bible?"

Me: "No."

Morgan: "Do you know any Protestants?"

Me: "I know lots of Protestants. I'm related to lots of Protestants."

Morgan: "Do any of them want a Bible?"

Me: "I think they all have Bibles."

Morgan: "That's the problem with Protestants."

I feel so loved

Me: "I'm going to die!"

Mom: "Don't do that. Our schedule's too busy."

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Gift of Joy

I went to a FOP last night, and spent the whole time either laughing or singing. I won't go too much into it, because some things are between God and me (I don't tell you all the nice things Scott says to me, either. :)) but I will say that it felt like I rediscovered joy, sitting there on the floor of a gymnasium laughing with abandon. Or maybe I just plain discovered it, because I do not recall ever having been that happy before in my life.

Right before I left (early, because there was something I felt compelled to do), the following Bible passage was read:

And he will destroy on this mountain the covering that is cast over all
peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death
forever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach
of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has
spoken.

It will be said on that day, "Behold, this is our God; we have waited for
him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be
glad and rejoice in his salvation."

~Isaiah 25:7-9

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Bless you

Last week when I was at home for Thanksgiving, I happened to sneeze. The Princess, wandering by, chirped, "Bless you!"

Naturally, I melted into a puddle at the cuteness. A little later, I reflected that the blessing of a two-year-old has got to be one of the purest blessings there is. There is absolutely nothing between her and God.

True, she probably doesn't really know what she's saying (although she understands more than you might give her credit for, so maybe she does after all...) but then again do we (all-wise grown-ups that we are) really know what we're saying? When somebody sneezes and you say "Bless you," do you ever think about the fact that you are calling down the graces of Almighty God upon them?

Words are pretty powerful things.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Philia Continued

There has been some big stuff going on in my little world. When things first started to get really rough, I asked the Cobbler, "Can I tell one person about this, just for the sake of having somebody to talk to?" He said yes, and so I went to Twin, one of my household sisters who is also an RA and happened to be on duty that night. It helped so, so much to just be able to talk to her. It seemed at certain moments like she was feeling things even more than I was--but then again, if I'd let myself feel everything I don't know that I would have gotten through the last few weeks.

Since then I've gotten support from so many people. My household sisters are my main support network here at school--they listen when I tell them what's going on; they pray for me even when they don't know what's going on (you'd be surprised how many people know you need prayers before you ask for them). There have been others too, though, friends from back home and even Theocentrica, whom I've never actually met in person but I love her to pieces just the same. I think it's kind of nice that the Cobbler didn't just give me himself when he came into my life; he also ended up giving me one of my best girl friends.

The Cobbler is a wonderfully supportive boyfriend, deals with my moods remarkably well, and provides a very comfortable shoulder to cry on when needed. But he's not a girl (I wouldn't want him to be) and sometimes a girl just needs to talk to another girl. I can't explain why that is. If you're a girl yourself, no explanation is necessary; if you're a guy, no explanation is possible except perhaps by analogy.

Just the other day the Cobbler said that he badly misses the Immortal Philosopher, and they're going to have some serious plotting to do when the latter gets back from college. I promptly had a little lightbulb moment sitting there staring at the Skype window.

Guys need friends too. I'm sure that intimate guy-talks (if such things even exist) are not at all the same as intimate girl-talks, but that's precisely the point. When the Cobbler is in a certain place, nothing I can do can help him, not because I'm a bad girlfriend, but just because I'm a girl. I've been trying lately to help him battle the forces of evil and such because he needs some serious help in that department, and it's just caused trouble for both of us.

I laughed once at a mutual friend of the Cobbler and me who said that I can't be his sidekick and his love interest at the same time. Now I'm starting to think she was right. It's not my job to ride out and duel the forces of evil with him. That's somebody else's job--most likely the Immortal Philosopher; possibly our household brothers or some other guys.

My job is something altogether different.

Monday, December 1, 2008

If that were the case, I'd probably be disqualified too

Morgan: "Oh, that's a cool name."

David L.: "What?"

Morgan: "Habukkuk."

Me: "If you ever have kids, it's going to be interesting, hollering their names from the back porch."

David: "Melchizedek! Methusela! Habukkuk! Get over here!"

Morgan: [laughs] "Maybe that's a sign I shouldn't have children."