Monday, October 31, 2005

Cussing LITE ?

The Tennessean has an interesting article about the slang kids today use. Actually, my generation uses a whole host of words that one interviewee deemed "tacky," rather than profane.

This article is what helped the Holy Spirit further convict my friend YellaJacket about his use of the word c**p and others. His decision, and his discussion of the article, sparked a hallway debate about the related issues: the uncouthness of our society and the further degeneration of our culture, what makes a curse word a curse word, and what should a Christian refrain from saying.

I think we can all agree that our society has allowed uncouth behavior to become acceptable, even desirable. What started this trend? Shall we blame it on our parents and aunts and uncles---the Baby Boomers and Flower Children? Makes sense to me. Previous eras didn't buck the system and scream against "the establishment" as much as the 60s did.

The adults of previous eras still held up adulthood as an admirable state to reach. One was expected to grow out of childhood. Certain privileges were reserved for people of certain ages, and certain activities were allowed only within the confines of marriage (sex, having and raising children, owning one's own home).

Today childhood and adolescence are lifted up as the golden years. The years of maturity are only praised among the senior citizens, when one wants to sell something to them, like Centrum Silver ('cause "it's a good time to be silver"). Madison Avenue has exalted youth, rather than maturity, and now even adults are electing to maintain behaviors and attitudes that generations before, adults would have renounced as they grew up and matured.

This attitude and these values, together, cause, or at least facilitate, the degeneration of our speech. We no longer hold children accountable to our expectations of them. We are told, and then accept the message, that we are too hard on them, that we must be more understanding, we must be more tolerant, we must not dampen their spirits.

It is not the spirit of being a child that rears its ugly head in a child---it is the human nature, the flesh nature, the sin nature, that rears its head. That nature is in each and every one of us. Not some. Not a few. ALL!

Are we to encourage rebellion? Are we to encourage unrestrained thinking, speaking, and behaving? No! Adults are supposed to train the children in the ways that they are to go as adults---to teach them to begin NOW to think, speak, and behave in ways that bring the favor of God and of other people.

In the case of their speech, what does it matter what a child says? Isn't a word just a word? Well, no. Curse words demean the things to which they refer...whether to a sexual act or to full sexual intercourse (sexual acts are designed by God to be sacred acts...in the sense that it is set aside for a special purpose: the joining of two human souls and procreation [yes, pleasure is involved, but it is not the sole purpose, nor the highest]) to defecation or any number of human activities. Curse words involve vehement, even violent, emotions. It is really not the word itself that makes it profane. In theory, we could use any combination of letters and make it a curse word. It is the meaning the word carries, the thing to which it refers (and demeans), and the emotion behind the usual usage of the word--the combination of these things that make the word a curse word. You could also say that connotation has much to do with it.

Yet, I don't think that explains all. Why do we use the particular curse words that exist nowadays? Well, my theory is that we use them because their sounds are harsh, and those harsher sounds seem to express the level of vehemence in our feelings. Isn't there a difference between saying, "Oh, shoot!" and "S**t!!!" ? Yes, there is. I feel it in myself. One expresses stronger anger or frustration than the other. And when I say, "Shoot!" with the same vehemence I would usually say with the other word, well, it's the other word I'm really thinking in my head.

I mean, think about the worst curse word of them all---the F bomb. (And if there is a worse curse word, I don't know of it.) Why is it so beloved as a curse word? Perhaps it is the beginning sound, which one must press one's upper front teeth to one's bottom lip to make [notice that the position of teeth and lip is very like a facial expression of frustration], and the ending sound, which one must extend one's lower jaw and pull back one's upper jaw, keeping the mouth open slightly, to make [this position is like a facial expression of anger]. The sounds of the word are explosive and harsh---and it puts a violent "spin" on the action it originally described.

Is it any coincidence, now, that the F word has become an adjective, moving beyond just being a rather profane way to express sexual action? This word, sex, and violence are inextricably linked. Even if we are becoming more and more desensitized to its use in "everyday" speech... {UGH!}

So what does a Christian do? Are we to be concerned only about what is actual profanity, as defined by God, or must we also be concerned about what "polite society" deems uncouth and unrefined? Should a Christian be refined? Certainly not if "refined" means haughty, cold, and unapproachable. But if one's behavior is dignified because it flows from a reverence and regard for God, from a valuing of human beings and a desire to make others comfortable (which is the purpose of courtesy and manners), then a concern for being dignified, couth, and refined is certainly a godly one. But if it is about self, about maintaining one's reputation (and considering others as beneath oneself), about being "better" than others, THAT is not godly.

I don't think that Jesus was so concerned about being so-called "refined." Besides, back then...there was so much dirt and grime everywhere---how could you be THAT refined in the first place? But Jesus would not have been sarcastic to the point of being hurtful to others. He would not have been a cynical person. Maybe He could be described as a realist AND an optimistic person, but since He also is all-knowing God and not just a mere human with extra powers, optimistic or pessimistic isn't even an issue---He knows what's going to happen. He doesn't have to speculate and decide the worst will happen or hope the best will happen. He will be victorious. He already is victorious.

Jesus was and is confident, in the sense that He knew who He was and knows who He is. God needs no one else to prove who He is. He is "I AM that I AM." He is sufficient unto Himself.

So God is not arrogant...because there is no one above Him. And arrogance is thinking more highly of oneself than one ought. God is God.

God alone knows when gentleness or firmness is needed with one of His creations. Jesus was gentle with His words but also firm (dare I say, harsh at times?). He had compassion on people, but He also told them like it was. He sees the heart as it truly is, beneath our heaped-up extra guilt or beneath our self-delusional pride.

Jesus said, "The mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart (Matt. 12:34). ... What comes out of the mouth comes from the heart, and this defiles a man. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, sexual immoralities, thefts, false testimonies, blasphemies. These are the things that defile a man (15:18-20)."

So...we Christians should check our minds, our hearts, our mouths, and our entire lives---is what we are thinking, saying, and doing flowing out of attitudes of love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, forbearance, perseverance, humility, praise, gratitude, compassion, boldness, goodness, patience, peace, kindness, gentleness, soberness, and self-control? Or are we letting the flesh have sway? Are we thinking, speaking, and acting out of bitterness, anger, jealousy, wrath, envy, hatred, self-pity, pride, suspicion, revenge, foolishness, lack of restraint, greed, lust, gluttony, and drunkenness?

Through Jeremiah, God says, "The heart is more deceitful than anything else, and desperately sick---who can understand it? I, the LORD, examine the mind, I test the heart (Jer. 17:9-10)."

Monday, October 17, 2005

Morena Elena's blonde moment(s)

Though I am dark brown haired, from this weekend, and especially this morning, you'd think I was blonde.

Today's fortune-cookie-worthy lesson (re-learned)...... Moo Shu Chicken left in waste can in office over the weekend makes for "shoooooo weeee!!!!!" on Monday morning.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Friday Flinging Fun

What other pleasures are there on a Friday afternoon than attempting to get things to go airborne?

I finally succumbed to the seductive lure of................the Chicken Chucker.

This brightly-colored "gun" is actually a miniature trebuchet of sorts and comes packaged with five small chickens. (Refills are available...should chicken be launched and turn up irretrievable.) You place the chicken inside one "tray," snap the top down on it, and pull the trigger. A fowl is flung into the air!

Yes, two chickens will fit in the tray. First attempt of double-cluck chucking resulted in one chicken flung into a co-worker's office across the hall and other chicken landing near my office door.

My editor in chief admitted his jealousy of my new firing arm. He tried it out and got quite an arc with the trajectory.

Why toss paper wads or fire rubber bands......when you can propel poultry?

Sweet!

Candy for the Cannibalistic Set?

I forwarded to MamaJR an e-mail someone had sent me which contained photos of tiny little babies...supposedly made of marzipan. (Marzipan is almond paste, a sweet paste made of ground almonds and sugar, often with egg whites or yolks, used as a layer in cakes or molded into ornamental shapes [yeah, usually fruits...like oranges and lemons and such...NOT babies!].)

Here's the conversation that ensued:

MamaJR: WOW!

Elena: Now you can really nibble on little baby feet.... {And I had just been nibbling on little Baby E-beth's fingers and toes Saturday...just kisses, though!}

MamaJR: Funny... I wouldn't want to eat them!

Elena: I know...but they're MARZIPAN.....which means you could eat them......which sounds CREEPY to me.

To which MamaJR replies that she just wants to put one in a glass case and put it on her TV cabinet...to the mixed horror and delight of her guests, I'm sure. Can't you just see the quizzical stares and the one-raised-eyebrow looks?

See, I'm remembering a certain Austin Powers character with a penchant for child flesh and his cry of glee when seeing Mini Me: "It's a baby! I wanna eat the baby! Come on, little baby! Git in mah belleh!!"


Update: Yep, it's another "urban legends" type thing...check out the explanation at Snopes.com.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Holy shag carpeting, Batman!

You gotta love Pier 1, folks. They sell the....oddest....music collections on CD. I'm currently listening to one I bought there---Cocktails: Shaken Not Stirred.

Track 1 is "It's Not Unusual" by Tom Jones (can ya see the chest hair and the bling-blingin' necklaces between the two long-pointed lapels?).

Track 2 is "Soul Bossa Nova" by Quincy Jones. Movie fans know that track as the Austin Powers theme music.

Hey, when ya work in a mauve-walled office, ya gotta add some real color wherever you can find it!

Monday, October 10, 2005

It was one of those days

Conversation from last Thursday....

Elena: Today’s just one of those days. Not bad........just one of those days when work tasks leave ya shakin' your head and wanting to chuck the computer app out the winder...... Signs of one of "those" days: (1) Liberal amounts of chocolate must be applied to aid in higher brain function [and lower brain function] and (2) rants at the computer are sung with a pretty decent Strong Bad impression.

Pink Kitty: Do you apply chocolate in a solid form, or slather it all over yourself like a mud mask?

Squirrel Saga, Part Deux

My friend MamaJR reports the latest in the squirrel saga:
"Here's the e-mail our car insurance company sent us."

GEICO General Insurance Company

October 10, 2005

Dear [Mr. Bulldog Fan]:

Thank you for your Internet request.

I apologize for any confusion. Comprehensive coverage would cover damage caused by the collision of your vehicle with an animal. You would actually have to collide with the animal in order for the damages to be covered.

I apologize for any inconvenience we may have caused you. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Thank you for using GEICO's on-line services! We appreciate your business and hope you have a great day!

Sincerely,
[Ms. GEICO Employee]


MamaJR says: Just let me at them, I'll be happy to collide with the squirrels!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Bizarre car

A story from MamaJR:

"My mechanic just called to explain why my car went berserk and died Tuesday night. BulldogFan and I had stopped by Enterprise to pick up my car at 10:00 p.m. when we returned from Georgia. The car was shaking and acting possessed, so we left it there at Enterprise and had it towed yesterday.

"A squirrel (over the course of a few days or weeks) has chewed through two of my six spark plugs, through AC wires, connection wires, transmission wires; and the breaks have caused them to burn. =(

"Hopefully they haven't burned into the console, but the mechanic said it's going to be a long repair job since he will have to literally rebuild the entire wiring system.

"Those little runts! I can't keep them away from my car because our house doesn't have a garage and we live in a heavily-wooded area next to a river. I will have to think about creating traps to keep the buggers away.

"I am also going to buy a gun."

After consulting a co-worker, Mama JR had this update: "I told Titus2Lady that I need to get a pellet gun to scare them, and she told me that I need to get a real gun to kill them!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Darn tootin,' I'd say...


Related item of pop culture: Carrie Bradshaw, when spending a weekend in the country, wuzznt kiddin' when she proclaimed, "They are NOT cute!!! Squirrels are just rats in better outfits."

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Blessings on the concert, LPO!

Tonight is the first performance of the Lousiana Philharmonic Orchestra's 2005–06 season, which was set to open Sept. 15 but couldn't because of Hurricane Katrina + levee damage to their theater. About 60 musicians have gathered here in Nashville for a concert.....and it's an emotional time: a reunion of family.

NPR broadcasted a report from one of our local radio reporters (see link in the blog entry title), and you can hear the excitement in the musicians' voices as they talk about their reunion. You also hear the bits of sorrow over instruments they have lost (or fear are lost). Several musicians have collections of the musical instruments they play, including rare and antique pieces.

But what they grieve most of all is having a home in which to play. For tonight, they do have a home, albeit a temporary one. The LPO's gratitude to Nashville is palpable and the musicians' joy infectious.

May you play with vigor and joy, gratitude and wonder, and renewed dedication to your art, LPO musicians! May your time in Nashville be a blessing to you, as I am sure you will be a blessing to us!