Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Son of a Gun (Song of the Week and random musings)

Here is the song of the week.  Pretty dang awesome, or so I think.  

George Harrison
My Sweet Lord?

Hello Peoples, 
     Greetings from the end of student teaching.  You may hold your applause until the end of this post.  No really, please, its too much.  Thank you.  I haven't written in a while, little did I realize just how long, and there is nothing more to blame for that than the general craziness of life.  Maybe now that student teaching is over with things will begin to settle down, but honestly I doubt it.

     A while ago, I expressed my intention of taking up cycling as a hobby.  Unlike most of my other almost hobbies I have been rather successful and consistent in pursuing this one.  Just ask Bess, who was forced to go along with me just this past weekend.  In fact, we met one of her little friends on a bike trail.  I remember it well because he decided to take the middle of the path and force me into the mud on the side.  Thank you, friend of Bess.  Thank you vera much. What I've found out about cycling though, or maybe about myself, is that I love the going (You know, the wind in your hair, speeding down hills, flying past children and small animals, its all wonderful) and I hate the slowing down.  But somehow I can't manage to find a route that will take me downhill both there (wherever there is) and back.  At some point I always end up going up hill.  Case in point, yesterday I pedaled out toward a river nearby and loved the first 40 minutes because I was flying.  Even the police told me to SLOW DOWN (or maybe it was just a wave hello) when they passed.  Then I turned around.  Immediately I remembered why, at some point on the way, my mind had softly urged me to go ahead and turn around, and I wondered "why didn't I listen then?"  Leave it to me to love things when they are fun, and then get bored with them as soon as they get tough.  No depth here. Just thinking.  Just expressing my likes and dislikes about my bicycle.  By the way, they now know me by name at the local bicycle shop.  I've decided that, as nice as it is to walk in and be greeted by name, it works out better for them than it does me as there is always a reason that I stop by there.  In other words, the bike shop = Mr. Strange's money.  They really are extremely nice though and if you are ever nearby, I hear they also have a store in Georgia which can be found at the following website habershambicycles.com

     A couple more things....
   1) Hazel is now a Major League Baseball widow. Actually, that may be a little bit extreme, but she does find my tendency to watch or listen to every single Braves game a bit taxing. For that, Hazel, I am sorry, but I promise that it will end (hopefully in October, but if you’re lucky, September).

     2)The "Name Mr. Strange" contest is over/has been over for a while.  The winner: Bonnie from SA!  Congratulations Bonnie!  Does this mean that my name is now Teddy?  Eh, maybe, but seriously Bonnie, Congratulations.  At eight total votes it was a close race, but you pulled it off. 

  3)    A student came up to me a while ago  and said this, "Mr. Strange, have you ever thought about being a counsellor or a psychologist.  Dr. Strange.  You'd be pretty good at that."  If you know me, you may laugh....Now.  It is a long running inside jokes between Hazel and one of our friends that if I became a life coach or a therapist, the suicide rate would skyrocket. The imagined conversations go something like this,
          "I don't know.  I just don't feel good about my life."
           "REALLY?  Neither would I.  Your life sucks!"     
I would like to think that my therapy sessions would sound better than this, as I would charge an arm and two legs, but they are probably right.  Still this held some encouragement for me.  If you have followed this blog you know that at the beginning of my ST experience, compassion and kindness were two things that I struggled with.  Obviously this student had seen something in me that does not come naturally to myself, and what I hope that he say instead of me was a little bit of Christ.
I should be posting again later this week, so stay tuned.   Ok, you may applaud..... .....................now

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Song of the Week

Give Up the Ghost
Hello Peoples,  This week's song of the week comes from Radiohead's latest, King of Limbs, which I have finally gotten around to buying after agonizing weeks of not having it.  Thanks to Emusic.com, the album only cost me 99 cents.  Go ahead, beat that legally!  Anywho, this version is just Thom Yorke (or Thom Bjork?  See, I can do it too) with a guitar.  It is quite nice, so please enjoy.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Careful With That Axe Eugene

Hello Peoples,

     Last week saw Walkerville High School on Spring Break and myself without an internet connection.  Though I did  actually write a post (a very long one) I find it better to write, save as a draft, rewrite, publish.  Each of these steps is as essential as the one  before it and I just couldn't bring myself to skip any of the aforementioned steps and deliver to you, my readers, anything lower than my normal absolutely stellar material (Har har har).

     A lot has happened to the Strange family and their relatives recently that has us all more or less reeling.  More correctly, a lot has happened to the Strange family's families and this has left us all a bit stunned.  More on that (maybe) some other time, but at the moment there are just a few things that I need to share.

     My mother and I have a disagreement which has led to a jagged rift in our familial relationship.  It is, to say the least, devastating.  You see, she maintains that Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven is the greatest rock and roll song ever recorded.  I, though I recognize its incredible beauty and rock awesomeness, maintain that in fact the greatest rock and roll song ever recorded is Jimi Hendrix's All Along the Watchtower (yes I know, you know-it-alls, All Along the Watchtower was written by Bob Dylan, but would you consider his version rock and roll? I thought not).  To resolve this dispute we (or I) turned to our resident authority on ear-candy, Bess.  My thoughts were that perhaps her unfamiliarity with the lords of rock would lend her neutrality.  So in order to see, what does a 14 year old girl think is the greatest,  we did what anyone would do. We grabbed a  25 year old AM/FM radio with one speaker and a tape player and we played the songs.  Oddly enough, both songs may have actually sounded better on said AM/FM radio with one speaker and a tape player, but this was not enough to stop 6 yr. old Curious George from walking in during Stairway and declaring loudly, "You call this rock and roll?  This does not sound like rock and roll!"  Oh Curious George, someday you will grow up and see the error of your ways. As for Bess, she realized that she was between a rock and a hard place, namely my mother and myself, and decided very wisely to hide behind the fifth amendment.

     As I mentioned before, a lot has  happened recently to the Strange family's families.  Some of it is, to put it lightly, rather shocking.  Certain things have made me rather angry at certain people.  I can't describe how angry it has made me.  I think its a kind of righteous wrath, but it has been justified (by me) on the basis of, "Well, I may be a sinner, but I would never do this," or "What kind of [no need to type this] would do that?"  I justified my anger because I saw myself as better than certain others around me, but I'm not. Honestly, not one of us is.  In Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand describes one character's realization that some people are just plain bad.
But he still thought it self-evident that one had to do what was right; he had never learned how people could want to do otherwise; he had only learned that they did. It still seemed simple and incomprehensible to him: simple that things should be right, and incomprehensible that they weren't.
     Like it or not, some people are actually intentionally bad.  They intentionally do things for the single purpose of hurting others or getting their own at others' expense.  You and I may not be out to get people.  We may not try to be mean (I swear, I don't try) or hurtful, but we still do. With that in mind, we then separate people into the categories of intentions.  We make two categories: those whose intentions are good and those whose intentions are bad. "Did he mean to hurt her? Well then he is bad." "He shouldn't have done that, but his heart really is good."  The fact is though  that no matter what or how we do right, we will always, purposefully or accidentally, do wrong as well.
If we justify ourselves by what we do, we will always come back to the fact of what we cannot: we cannot achieve perfection. We cannot achieve our own justification.  C.S. Lewis describes our state in life without Christ very well in Mere Christianity.
That is the terrible fix we are in.  If the universe is not governed by an absolute goodness, then all of our efforts are in the long run hopeless.  But if it is, then we are making ourselves enemies to that goodness everyday, and we are not in the least likely to do any better tomorrow, and so our case is hopeless again. We cannot do without it, and we cannot do with it.  God is the only comfort, he is also the Supreme terror: the thing we most need and the thing we most want to hide from.  He is our only possible ally, and we have made ourselves His enemies...Goodness is either the great safety or the great danger- according to the way you react to it.  And we have reacted the wrong way.
Yes, we have all made ourselves enemies of God by our every good intentioned wrong action.  Lets add in the ol' Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" and 3:10, "There is no one righteous, not even one" and it becomes annoyingly clear that we all, on our own, suck.
C.S. Lewis echoes David's own words of resting in the shadow of God and hoping in the Lord when He says that God is the "only comfort" and "Supreme terror."  Just how true this is can be seen by looking at how Israel, God's chosen people reacted to Moses when he came down from the mountain with the commandments.  They didn't see God, they saw only one who had met with him and they were so afraid by what they saw that Moses had to place a veil over his face.
     Let me add one more ingredient to this stew of thoughts I've spilled out here.  As I sat at the table one morning at the house in Alabama built by my grandfather and formerly belonging to my grandmother I was angry.  I was angry because it was "simple that things should be right, and incomprehensible that they weren't."  I fumed because some people could have the audacity and ignorance to do petty and ruthless things.  Then I read this
You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
I read this and my exact thoughts were, "Dang it, Jesus.  Really?" Now let me tie this all together.  I would like to say that I am the Moses in my life's story, and maybe sometimes I am, but the truth is that we are, all of us, Israel.  None of us is good.  None of us is righteous.  None of us is holy and the holiness of God should make us tremble.  Suddenly my anger was turned to pity as I realized that I am not as good as I think I am.  The only goodness that I have, the only righteousness I possess, comes from Christ.  Stonewall Jackson was known for reminding friends and family that as angry as we may become at others it is important to remember that they are only still "deceived." Like it or not, and I'm leaning toward not, we are, none of us, so much better than the worst of us as we thought. But enter here the beauty of Christ and His continued work in our lives.

This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone,  but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.- Romans 10
Also note, Bess pleaded the fifth, but you don't have to.  Let me know what you think is the greatest rock song in the comments.  Oh, and if it is not All Along the Watchtower then  I am sorry to inform you, but you are wrong.

Its So Cold in Alaska (Song of the Week)

The Velvet Underground
Back when I was, errrr 16(?) I heard this song barely coming in on Album 88 (thats 88.5 FM if you are anywhere near Atlanta).  I immediately loved it and spent weeks searching for a song with the line "Its so cold in Alaska" since that was all I could remember of the song.  Eventually I (along with a friend) found it and now I deliver it in all of its beauty to you. Enjoy.  Stephanie Says