Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Back in the Old Days

Medieval and renaissance people had some wonderful ideas about how things should be.  From clothing to furnishings, from art to architecture, and from the people of more modest surroundings to the social elite, everything was done with excellence and style that display the care and craftsmanship of the hands that made them.

The food was real food and it was as beautiful look to at as it was to eat.  It was prepared for the eye as well as the palate.  Meals were a time for gathering and more of an event, a time to reflect or an opportunity to fellowship, rather than a mere intake of calories for sustenance.  Preparation was long and arduous and the meal reflected the effort of the cook.  The flavors of the house, the hearth and fire, the bread bowl or even the comfortable and familiar flavor that the cheese and milk took on from their own home field that nourished a family cow were unique and pleasant.  The labor and skill that went into every day chores in order to have food on the table was far beyond what most of us today can comprehend.  It's certainly a far cry from a trip to the supermarket and a few minutes in front of the microwave, or a quick pass through the drive-up window at the corner burger joint.

The art of the period was stunning.  The music was masterful and full of mood and emotion, rich with melodies and harmonies and able to tell a story that your heart could understand.  Able to inspire art and dance and to "soothe the savage soul", the composers of the day were sought after and sponsored by aristocrats and even kings.  Paintings and sculptures from those times seem almost impossible to create with human hands.  The masters of the era are still unrivaled.  

The costume accentuated the beauty of the people, the fine details as important as the item they were adorning.  Layers and lace, beads and embroidery, modesty and magnificent fabrics that had such volume and texture that they were works of art themselves.

The image we often have of the medieval times is of poverty and slavery, filth and illness, but I doubt that it was actually a lot different than today.  We have our poor and enslaved, our diseases and cruelty.  All generations do, sadly, but they were people who lived lives every day in their world and time just as we do.  Their routines and traditions were as real and precious to them as ours are to us today.  They lived and worked and created and dreamed and loved.  Their legacy is one of bravery, excellence, beauty, and strength.  They were accountable to their fellows, to themselves and to their God.  They were an excellent people at whatever station they served.

Somewhere along the lines we lost our love of personal excellence.  Whether we were drained of it or gave it up willfully for the sake of money or convenience, style, real beauty and accountability to ourselves has practically faded away from us as a culture.

When did we become so vulgar and empty?   We pride ourselves on creativity and individuality, but we've all but lost personal excellence. We still have our masters and our prodigies, but our accomplishments as individuals in society and our legacies, what we offer to time and history, are sadly lacking in the things that define us as the people that we think we are: smart, metropolitan, urbane, polished, sophisticates, intellectuals.  We are cheap, dime a dozen phonies, stamped out en masse by a consumerist desire to be the momentary center of attention.  I don't think we care much for ourselves or others.  We are consumed by the desire to sate our insatiable emotional greed.

I wonder if the people of history thought of these things?  Probably.  I wonder if they noticed the deterioration of their world and longed for something more stable and strong.  Probably.

What got me started thinking about all this?  It's simple.  I am a baseball fan. My close family members have long been die hard Chicago Cub fans, and 1908 was the last year that the Cubs won the Major League Baseball World Series.  As sort of a joke I started  reading about 1908 and the stories from the headlines of that year. The Ottoman Empire still existed.  It was also the same year that the first major commercial oil discovery is made in the middle east.  Theodore Roosevelt was president, the boy scouts were founded, and the song, "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" was published.  The 46th star was added to the flag of the United States representing the state of Oklahoma.  "Anne of Green Gables" was published as was "The Wind in the Willows."  The first long distance radio message was sent from the Eiffel Tower, Wilbur Wright flew the first true controlled, powered flight, and Mother's Day was celebrated for the first time.  It was modern history condensed into one teams losing streak.

While I was searching and reading, I sort of stumbled across an interesting article about John Tyler, the tenth president of the United states.  As of January, 2012, he still has two living grandsons.  They are not great-great grandsons, or even great grandsons, but grandsons.  We are currently breathing the same air as men who are that directly connected to our American heritage and our history.  You see?  History isn't that far removed.  When I was a child, I sat on the lap of a man whose parents undoubtedly lived when Abraham Lincoln was still president.   Fear of the "red Indians" was in the collective consciences of some of my own family members.  I remember the talk. 

History is not far, far past. Time is fleeting.

If our generation remains on this earth, and if there are generations after our own, ours will be the "old days", the history someone else thinks was so long ago.  I hope they realize that in our day there were still those who were individuals, human beings, people with families who cared and loved.  I hope they see that there were people in these dark times that still had some dignity left, a love for fine craftsmanship and pride in their own work.  There were still true lovers of God and His Son Jesus, and that scattered among the profane, in small places and shadows, they were changing their destinies.  When history records it, I want to have won the day for the sake of humanity and the Glory of God.

We were born to this generation and God has chosen us to see it through.  Our time is no more or less desirable or difficult than any other.  If I am wrong about that and we are in fact a part of a generation more difficult and challenging than any other, then REJOICE!  God has seen fit to place us in this day and hour.  Evidently we have what it takes to get the job done.  I will fulfill my part.  Providence is on our side.  Carry on.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Next Step

I'm going to be starting a few different blogs that will be designated for specific purposes.  This one will probably remain my everyday, catch all, whatever I'm thinking or doing blog.  I'm continuing this one for two reasons.  One, I've had it the longest.  For all my spontaneity and creativity, I can be a creature of habit in some of the more mundane things.  It helps me sometimes to not have to make any new decisions about things that seem to me like they should remain in the background.  There's nothing wrong with Blogger so I'll maintain it and go along as I always have.

Number two, I ramble here.  There's no form or method to the madness, so I'll stay here for freedom's sake.  It's a place to say what I've had on my mind or in my heart.  It's really got no structure to speak of, there are no deadlines, time or subject limits and no real purpose other than to attempt to improve my writing and readability.  I'm not the judge of that, but my husband likes my writing and two of my friends do, too.  I'll never be satisfied, so I'll keep practicing and improving, but I'll go along with their opinions on the matter.

I'm trying to make one blog into an artsy/write-y/creativity blog over on tumblr.  Tumblr feels a little bit juvenile to me.  It could be an unfortunate misconception that I can't shake because many search results that lead me to Tumblr pages turn out to be teens with teen interests as their primary content.  Music, fashion, maybe a little nerd stuff and a lot of whiny, touchy-feely-ness seems to be the popular fare.  Not all, but a lot of them are that way.  A quick, casual stroll through the few that are presented to me on my home page for a sampling showed me I could be right about that assessment.   My apologies to those Tumblr users who are, in fact, serious.  I know you're out there!  The ones I have seen so far that think are more serious tend to be art/creativity related.  Writers, artists, craftsmen and the like seem to have found a home there, so I decided I could probably fit in if I go that route.

I'm also going to make a ministry page. That's always been my primary goal, but I've done very little to make it happen. I didn't want to start a blog about something I take so seriously until I had a good and a clear idea about what to do with it, how to use it, how to present it well and with excellence, and certainly how to write passably well enough not to sound like an idiot.  There are enough Christians out there, sadly, who sound like idiots.  I don't think there are any more needed in that area.  I'm not a great writer, but I'm not awful anymore either, so I decided to get started.  If I don't, it'll never happen.

I'm looking for a good blog site that will let me upload my audio sermons.  I have, stored on my computer, some of the audios from the past few years when I was at Foursquare.  I don't have a lot, but it's enough to get me started.  Right now I don't preach any place regularly, so I'm just planning to upload my older stuff, one every week maybe, and then write some blog entries in between.  By the time I get that accomplished I expect I'll have new ones and maybe I will have learned enough by then to create a podcast.  Who knows?  Preachers gotta preach, you know?  I am GOING to be getting content one way or another.  I write sermons, I just need to preach 'em.  Meanwhile I can use the outlines as starting places for blog entries and I can learn how to do podcasts while I'm getting the blog up and running and getting it's personality established.

It's a bit unnerving.  It still feels like I may be biting off a bit more than I can chew, in a way.  I'm not techy or computer savvy.  I've never forced myself to be disciplined with blog entries here, as far as posting with any regularity.  I have been building up to this for some time, though, so I'm feeling a bit more able to chew it than I did when I began, or even this time last year.  My husband knows quite a bit about these things.   His time is not his own right now, but if I have trouble I'm sure he can walk me through it.  My dear friend Loretta has the spirit of a true entrepreneur.  When I hit a snag, she'll shove me past it kicking and screaming.  Another dear friend, Sara, will keep me grounded and focused.  She always does, she just doesn't realize it.

I'd say the steps are in order.  By faith, with God and the gifts He's given to me, off I go!  May it be blessed, anointed, increased and a blessing to any and all who come upon it.