Monday, July 20, 2015

Another Thought About GO SET A WATCHMAN

A reader on a Facebook group (about reading), that I am a part of, has an interesting hypothesis.  And I believe there may be some truth to it.  Perhaps Harper Lee did not write Go Set a Watchman at all.  The style is nothing like To Kill A Mockingbird.  The depth of writing is much weaker.  And would Lee, writing in the 50s, really have presented Scout as a hard-hearted feminist?  With such a deep concern for the racial problems of the day?  Reading from a 21st century bias, we see many such characters today.  But in the 50s, they just did not exist.

Here is a celebrated author, in a nursing home, with no lawyer-sister here any more to defend and protect her interests, and who is not as lucid as she once was.  It might be fairly easy to pull off such a hoax.

It will be interesting to see if this story develops in the days (or years) to come.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Friday's Fave Five, 7/17/15

Link to Friday's Fave Five host blog.

1. I helped with registration at Vacation Bible School this year.  For several reasons, this was the first time I helped in a number of years.  The same kids registered in the same line each night, so by the end of the week I really knew some of them.

In some ways it was sad to observe the difference in the children.  You could tell immediately the children who had parents who cared about them - who pushed them each day to learn the verse, and who made sure they had a couple of cans of food each night for the collection table.  But a number of the children, mostly those who rode the bus, don't have parents who care any more than to send them out the door each night.  The contrast was great.

2. We had a great day Tuesday - Mike took a personal day because we had a couple of meetings in a nearby city and some errands we had to run there.  (I don't think the hour spent in Cabela's was really an official errand. . .)  Then we had supper with a couple we wanted to talk with about some issues.  It's not often we have a day like that to spend, getting things done and enjoying being with friends as well.

3.  Ran into an old friend at one of the meetings - she works in the same building, and our children grew up together.  Always nice to see someone you care about that you haven't seen for quite awhile.

4. I put a body wave in my hair today.  Don't laugh.  My fine, straight hair is not made for South Carolina humidity, especially now that I'm trying to wear it a little longer at Mike's request.   I can give a body wave to myself - when the curlers are in, it doesn't look quite as neat as when someone else puts them in, but who cares!!  No one knows once it is done.

5. The man who bought $300 worth of used textbooks in June contacted me and wondered if I had any more. There were some that were more worn, but he wanted them as well.  So without really working at it, I was able to make another $150 for our textbook repair/replacement fund.  We had a $1000 gift earlier this month to the fund, and then this past week another $2000 given in memory of a lady who was a member of our church.  We really needed some new books and it has been a blessing to see how the funds have come in.  I was also able to get some anatomy and math books for the little Christian school in Alabama that my folks have been associated with since they started it in 1977.  A gift of $300 was given for that as well.  I love helping get books put where they can be used!!

My Take on GO SET A WATCHMAN

So many things in recent years have increased people's disillusionment.  Taxes - terrorist activity - voter apathy - mandatory health insurance - gridlock in Congress - shootings - the list goes on and on.

And now Atticus is knocked off of his pedestal.

I see now why Harper Lee never published Go Set a Watchman.  She knew it was nowhere near as good as To Kill a Mockingbird.   I now believe, from my own reading of the book, the stories that suggest that new lawyers tricked an elderly lady into publishing this book that she never had any intentions of the public ever seeing.  It will never be Pulitzer Prize material like its predecessor, and it was not worth the $14 I spent to be part of the first wave of readers of this highly-hyped book.

Herman Melville says that to write a mighty book, you have to have a mighty theme.  To Kill a Mockingbird has a mighty theme.  It has many of them - Righting injustice, the evil in the world, the loss of innocence.  And they are carried out in such a masterful way that the reader is left amazed at the lessons he has just learned from a great work of fiction.

It appears the themes in Go Set a Watchman are Jean Louise's righteous anger about treatment of the black people in the south in the 50s, and her discovery and wrestling of what she terms her father's hypocrisy, as well as her discovery that she must stay true to her own conscience.  But in my opinion these are not executed nearly as well as the themes of To Kill a Mockingbird.

First of all, To Kill a Mockingbird pulls in the reader from the very first page.  Go Set a Watchman - I had to make myself finish it.  Even the start of the book shows the harshness of the "new" character of Jean Louise.  And from the beginning, it's difficult to follow.  Jean Louise in one breath acts like she can't stand her beau Henry - then she is calling him pet sweetheart names.  And this continues.  It is confusing.  The endearing nature of Scout - or Jean Louise - is completely gone.  She comes across as angry and difficult.

There are also passages that strike me as gratuitous.  The long passages about the first date to the dance with Henry, and the resulting actions of the principal; the long passage about Jean Louise's coming of age and naivety about her body and her concerns - those do not come across with the natural humor of the "hot steams" and other humorous parts of To Kill a Mockingbird.  They come across as attempts to insert humor that have nothing to do with the actual story.

Furthermore, a great novel does not tell the reader what to think.  It shows him, through the action.  Go Set a Watchman is filled with long passages of Jean Louise arguing: arguing with Henry, arguing with her uncle, Dr. Finch; arguing with Atticus.  And in most of the arguments, she is showing off her extensive vocabulary of unflattering swear words.  The men try to convince her of their position; she refuses to listen but just swears back at them.  This is not a book where the reader follows action by the characters, and then on his own comes to the moral conclusion the author is trying to make.

The greatness of Atticus as portrayed in To Kill a Mockingbird does not come through at all.  Jean Louise thinks he is a hypocrite; that is all we see.

This book reads like a first novel that an author writes, reads, decides it's not very good, puts it away, and writes an improved version for her second book.  I suspect that is what happened and why Harper Lee never intended to publish it.  And why her lawyer-sister, while she was living, helped her keep it from the world.  I think that this book diminishes, rather than enhances, the greatness of To Kill a Mockingbird.

Monday, July 13, 2015

VBS - Not What It Used To Be

When I was a teenager, helping with Bible school, the kids came, we had Bible school, and when it was all over, they left.

When I was organizing Bible school about 15 years ago, the same was true.

It is very, very different now.

I helped with registration tonight at our Bible school.  Every child had to have a form, with parents' names, address, phone number.  Any food allergies listed.  Permission signed that it was OK for the child to participate.

Each child then got a stick-on name tag (placed on his back so that he can't pick it off or play with it), with the name of the person who was picking him up written at the bottom.  Bus kids were identified with a "B" on the tag.  The person who dropped the child off got a card with the names of the children he would pick up at the end of the night.  Tag and card have to match at pick-up.

And if the child has any food allergies, he got a special identifying sticker on his name tag, with the specific food allergy written on it.  (I asked one little boy if there was anything he couldn't eat.  He solemnly replied, "No, I can eat anything, but I don't like brussels sprouts.")

Times have changed.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Some Final Questions On the Flag Issue

4:00 this morning - I couldn't sleep - and the questions started coming to mind.  They are rhetorical - they are not pointed at anyone.  They are merely food for thought.  They made me do some thinking.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

--Why do we not see such a groundswell of enthusiasm for honoring our ancestors who died in World War I? World War II? The Revolutionary War?  Why only the Civil War?

   --It is commonly known that the flag was returned to the Statehouse in 1962 as a statement against the civil rights movement.  Was that a good thing or a bad thing?
   
--What would you think if you observed a movement in Germany, of good middle-class people, not extremists or skinheads, who wanted to fly the swastika under the banner of "heritage, not hate"?

--How do you think you might feel about the Confederate flag if you had had to cut a dead family member down from a tree in, say, the 1930s (or have ancestors who had to do so) --a family member who had been murdered there, without due process of law, by vigilantes who acted under that banner?

--Does doing something meaningful for a group of people who have reason to be offended by a symbol, always have to be associated with legitimate fears of a slippery slope?

--Are government-sanctioned symbols, on public property, any different than privately-displayed symbols?


--Have you ever had a meaningful, one-on-one conversation with someone from the "other" race about why the flag means heritage, or why the flag means hate?

--How does this "flag flap" appear to people in other parts of the country and to the world?  Does it matter how it appears?  Should it matter?

--Crime, prejudice, other flag issues, are real problems.  Are they relevant to the topic of taking the flag off the statehouse grounds, or are they red herrings to this issue?

--Is it possible that the roots of this conflict go back to the ill treatment of whites during reconstruction?  If so, is that not tantamount to holding a generational grudge? As a Christian, is it possible that holding a hard line on leaving the flag up is actually holding a hard line on taking up another's offense--a historical offense?

--It has been widely stated that the gracious actions of the families of the Emmanuel Nine were what started the groundswell to take down the flag.  As a Christian, what is your response to their actions?  Was it easy or difficult to acknowledge their leadership during that court hearing?  Does a person's response to that question correlate in any way to his response to the Confederate flag issue?

--Does the principle of deference have any place in this matter?

--If taking down the flag might bring about conversation, communication, and better relations between black and white Christians, would taking it down be a worthy move?

--If Jesus were walking in South Carolina as He did in Galilee, what would be his reaction and response to this issue?

Friday, July 10, 2015

Friday's Fave Five, 7/10/15


Link to Friday's Fave Five host blog

1. I have had a nice, quiet, week, with lots of time to clean out files, drawers, and other things around this house.  I love this kind of week.

2. Made it to the gym four times this week.  Not good for lower back pain, but good for everything else.

3. Son is having a wonderful time touring Germany while staying with friends he met in China.  He's been sending lots of pics to my phone.  What a world traveler.  They offered to get his ticket changed (they would pay) if he would stay for three weeks and tour Austria, Switzerland, Italy, etc., with them in their RV!  What a life.

4. BLT sandwiches.  Need I say anything more?  But also - I have discovered avocados and have found that a salad of cucumbers, tomatoes, and avocado, with lemon juice and a little olive oil drizzled onto it, is delicious and does not need any additional dressing.  Add a scoop of cottage cheese and maybe a half a dozen ham chunks, and it is a meal.

5. We cleaned out the "jungle" some last weekend.  That's the place where volunteer sunflower seeds sprouted and grew underneath our bird feeders.  It looks much better, but also makes me a little sad, because the birds were coming to that tangled, easy-to-hide-in area, almost as much as they come to the feeders last winter.  I am also amazed that suet is going faster in the summer than it does in the winter.  I have really enjoyed feeding the birds during the summer this year - this is a first.  Usually I stop about March or April.  It's been a source of enjoyment.


The Flag

Anyone from our state who reads this knows that THE FLAG has been the issue this week.  Not the U.S. flag, or the state flag.  Just one particular flag.  The Confederate flag.

Differences abound and emotions run high.

I know where I stand on this issue.  In many ways it is a gut thing.  I may not be able to articulate the reasons entirely, but . . . I believe that the flag should come down from the Statehouse grounds, and am glad that this morning that it did.

It would be a different issue if a law had been passed that made flying the Confederate flag illegal.  But all the people who are unhappy about the flag coming off the statehouse grounds can fly a thousand such flags in their yards if they so choose, and are welcome to do so.  They can wear their flag bowties, and put their flag bumper stickers on their trucks, and use that symbol however they decide, to thus honor their ancestors who fought valiantly.

However, flying it over the Statehouse is another matter entirely.  The Statehouse, being the house of the people, gives an official sanction to this flag of history--a flag that, like it or not, offends many people.  That official sanction should not be.

I saw something on the internet this morning, said in jest but with some truth of feeling, that the name Cracker Barrel should be changed because the term "Cracker" is offensive to white people.  (The fact that Cracker Barrel is a private business, not an official statehouse, is another, entirely different, issue.)  Many other such PC issues have been likewise brought up.  But the difference is this, at least in my mind:  The term "Cracker," while offensive, has not been used in the commission of horrible crimes.  It was never the symbol of the KKK.  It is not used to promote racial superiority groups.  Nor have a number of other symbols that have been mentioned been such used.

I cannot remove the mental image of that vicious murderer, wrapped in the Confederate flag, taken not long before he slaughtered nine people, simply because they were of another race.

Racism will continue.  Offenses will continue.  Political correctness issues will abound, to the irritation of many, including myself.  Things are not entirely right or fair yet.  (They never will be until the return of Christ.)  Fly, wear, display your flags in any way you personally choose.  But, in an official capacity, the Confederate flag belongs in the state museum.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

There's more! (Author unknown)



We only see a little of the ocean,
A few miles distant from the rocky shore;
But oh, out there, beyond--beyond our 
      eyes' horizon--
There's more; there's more!

We only see a little of God's loving,
A few sweet treasures from His mighty 
      store;
But oh, out there, beyond--beyond our 
      eyes' horizon--
There's more; there's more!

Monday, July 6, 2015

"The King"

I am going through files today, pitching and organizing and reading old things.  Here is a little piece written in the spring of '89, about a certain young man who is currently touring Europe on his way home from China.  :-)

With his dad, about the time this was written.
He is the king, and he knows it.  Why else would he have the audacity to lie awake in my arms at 6:30 on a Sunday morning, cooing, laughing, and making bubbling noises with his bottle?  He probably even thought to himself, "Now, I know that if I weren't around, my chief lady-in-waiting would never be awake this early, so I'll prove that I'm the one authority who can move her out of bed."  And his gurgles, smiles, and happy sounds are the proofs of his power.

He knows that the right squeal or cry will bring one of his two principal subjects running to figure out his royal demand.  And he knows that when we venture out into public, the general populace will press upon him, exclaiming his every virtue, while he sits in his privileged throne (stroller by definition) and decides which one of the masses will be the recipient of the royal smile he might choose to bestow.


Some days I think maybe I should set this self-appointed ruler straight.  I should tell him, "Look, sir, we got along fine before you came along, and life was a whole lot simpler then.  In fact, a little over a year ago you weren't even a gleam in our eyes, and the world ran just great without your royal presence!"  But I never will.  One never makes such disrespectful remarks to a king.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Friday's Fave Five, 7/3/15

Link to Friday's Fave Five host blog

No pics - I'm on my husband's computer as mine is being retooled by our IT guy at school.  I can't figure out how to save pics straight from the internet, and really don't want to be putting pics on his computer, so. . .no pics today.

However,

1. Here is a link to the post about our great vacation to Litchfield Beach, from which we returned last Saturday.  It was a lovely way to celebrate 30 years of marriage.  

2. Right now I am cooking up a pot of yellow squash for a casserole for Sunday - all of it from our garden.  My folks picked about half a dozen squash while we were gone, which were still good, and I've gotten some more this week.  Now, the term "garden" does not mean what it does to some people.  But getting that much squash from our four plants thus far is a good thing.

3. Rain, rain, and more rain.  The last two days have been great.  It's been so hot, and so dry, that we are very glad for every drop.   I am cleaning out my desk, oiling the sewing machine, getting clothes out of the closet for a yard sale, going through books, getting ready to go through the filing cabinet. . .all those things that need to be done, and don't get done, and are good jobs for rainy days.

4. Doing well at the gym.  Unfortunately, the lower back issues are kicking in again, as I tried a couple of days on the treadmill, and did 20 minutes each time.  I just can't do the treadmill.  Elliptical works so much better.  But I've had two good workouts this week and anticipate (well, maybe that's not the right verb) another this afternoon.

5. This morning, during the rain, Mike and I drove out to a backwater area he comes through on his way home from work, and looked for birds.  Then we drove to another place that is known in this area for birding.  Yes, we sound like old people.  But we saw three great blue herons and five great egrets along the way.  And about a dozen brilliant goldfinches, as well as a beautiful blue grosbeak, which is a little more unusual.  It would have been a great morning had someone not insisted that she knew we were going the right direction from one place to the other, on a circular route, and felt very confident as she is usually better at reading maps than the driver, so he usually defers to her on this.  But this time he was right and she was wrong.  So we drove twenty miles out of the way, and "she" had to eat a little humble pie.  :-)

Happy Fourth of July!!