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Faith musings

Sometimes I find myself in conversation with atheists who hold beliefs and live their lives closer to the Gospel than many people “whose favorite book is the Bible”–yes, that is a Trump reference. I don’t understand because there are many things I can’t imagine having the energy to care about if I didn’t believe that God cares about them.

The poor–easier to ignore them.

The environment–I’ll be dead in a few decades, what do I care?

Basically all morality–why shouldn’t I do whatever I can get away with that benefits me?

But I do believe in forgiving people sevenXseven times. I do believe mercy is better than sacrifice (doing the right thing in the first place is better than trying to make up for doing the wrong thing). I do believe I am responsible and will be held accountable for the actions I take or don’t take that affect others; the words I speak or don’t speak; and even my thoughts. Even this.

Perhaps this is the law God wrote in our hearts, and whether we believe he wrote it or not, it is there, and some people will listen while others refuse–and profession doesn’t have much to do with it. But I am so very confused how inconsistent human beings can be. How can you follow Christ and also never see his face in the hungry, the imprisoned, the insane? The way I’ve heard people talk about the poor, immigrants, etc., there is no way they see Christ in their faces because a Christian could never talk about Christ that way.

I am coming to think our society is not compatible with Christianity. I’m no Communist, but how on Earth can a system based on consumption, competition, profiting, and ownership (and where law does not prohibit it, exploitation) be reconciled with a philosophy of self-sacrifice, humility, forgiveness, generosity, faith, and hope? How can children learn to look at everyone equally while living in a system full of hierarchies which they must strive to ascend? It is totally contradictory. Even our democracy is false, and money has so much power. There must be another way.

Poetry of sports

Growing up I never questioned the value of paintings, stories, poems, or scientific studies. I even studied Latin, and at the time it seemed worthwhile enough. As far as ways of making money go, I valued the trades as much as academic jobs. My father was a carpenter, and heck, so was Jesus. From philosophy to pipe-fitting, literature to roofing, quantum mechanics to car mechanics–I got it. But what I never got was sports. Truthfully, I never got things like medicine, drug development, massage therapy, or anything with the physical body as its focus. It’s funny now, since I’ve become much more ‘integral,’ I’d say (to borrow from my tiny knowledge of the Ken Wilbur philosophy).

I think now that for a long time I must have held a Manichean view, in error, like St. Augustine did. Like many others have, I suspect, I thought of the soul, the mind, the self, the who-I-am, the what-matters, as something tethered to this world by the body. A body we are in for a reason, which we are not allowed to destroy, which is a temple… but also a cage. I feel reticent to write this because now it seems blasphemous. That is what I felt perhaps more than what I actually thought.

Anyway, after so many years, I think it is all connected in some way. I see the glory of sports, the value in so many strong emotions, in brilliant teamwork, in long hours and seasons and years of practice at physical skills. I watched the World Cup Final this morning, and it was beautiful, human, important. I feel like I “get it” so much more than I did when I was younger. Life is not lived entirely in the head, and there is nothing to admire about trying to do so. That said–I have physics to study today. Cheers.

Time: please don’t waste what little I have.

I cannot recall if I have written about it here before, but it was only after moving to the suburbs to save money and starting what was for me a very intense degree that I realized how important time is to me. Sure, Interstellar got me thinking about it. My physics classes really got me thinking about it. But mostly, its scarcity is what got me thinking about it.

I can go back in my mind. I am sitting in my car. KPBS is playing. It’s David Green interviewing some US Senator. The Senator is replying so predictably. Traffic over “the hill,” that is, the summit of Mission Trails, over which the CA-52 passes, is crawling so slowly. I have a bagel and my coffee because I’ve figured out by now that breakfasting in the car allows me to leave 15 minutes earlier, and this can mean the difference between a 25-minute commute and a 50-minute one (not to mention the parking situation when I arrive at UCSD).

Well, enough of that. The point is I used to sit there in frustration, mentally calculating how many hours a week I was wasting on my buttocks in my car. I tried music, podcasts, phone calls, news radio, Audible, and books on CD. Sometimes I had the perspective to be grateful that I have a pretty comfortable and reliable car. That I have a car at all. That I have places to be. That I have places I’d rather be when I’m at the places I have to be!

But mostly I was upset at everything I was missing: extra sleep, study time, quality time with my husband, quality phone calls with my family and friends, social events, and even good ole veg-out time in front of the TV. Recreational reading became a thing of the past for a sad long while, though I never did give up reading non-fiction like the news (well, some of it, apparently), scientific articles, and things like that.

Here I am several months later, spending time on a blog post. I just finished a psychology paper because even though I earned my degree, there are still things I want to learn in school, and my GPA could still use some boosting. Everything is different now. My husband and I have moved back to the city, and my commute is now about 15 minutes one way. I could bike to work if I weren’t afraid to. We adopted two kittens… they aren’t children, but we love them dearly and engage in surprisingly deep research and conversation as to what’s best for them: to walk or not, what food is best, what age to do this or that, should we try to acclimate them to their fears or are we traumatizing them?, etc. They also have amazingly unique personalities, moreso than I realized cats could have, based on memories of my childhood cats.

Anyway, I am busy. It is a better busy than it used to be. I can prioritize better than I used to. I am not taxing my brain (and whatever else is taxed simply by stress) as much as I was while studying at UCSD. I partly miss the mental taxation, but that’s another subject.

Life is very full, just brimming with important things. Relationships. Beautiful scenes that deserve to be seen. Cries that need to be heard. Injustices that need to be fought–not necessarily because we will succeed in this life in righting them, but because we need to fight them. We need to thirst for righteousness, to listen to our souls; it is like we need to hunger for fiber, to listen to our bodies… but usually we don’t. It can be an important thing to be silent, to be still, to sleep, sometimes.

But what is important to the spirit and even to the physical body is actually not important to society, at least not always. Fluorescent lighting and various reports that never get read anyway, but filed just in case an ass needs to be covered someday. So, so, so much effort put in to making money–and I don’t mean the way we all make money. Yes, we need it. We need a certain amount so we can eat and live indoors and such, but so much business is about generating not even money, but wealth. It is so vain, really, and not what I call important.

Sometimes I am upset in one way or another about doing what I call unimportant when there are so many things that are important I want to do instead. To make this more sensible, perhaps I should clarify: I work in biotechnology. Many, many animals suffer and die for the research. Many, many people work many, many hours and even years on the technology, experiment design, method development, testing, and so on. It is an incredibly massive undertaking… and the results? Almost all drugs fail. Some drugs go to market, but no one can afford them. Some go, but turn out to be harmful after all! Others are successful at treating diseases that could also be treated or prevented in the first place from people living happier and healthier lives (like not working under fluorescent lights!). Sure, some change the world in an amazing way, at least for a time, like antibiotics.

But is it important? Is it worth it? If we make people live longer, are they living better? If we take away physical pain, but create a drug addiction epidemic, is that better? Is it ethical to do experiments on healthy monkeys, then kill them so we can perform necropsies, just for the 0.01% chance we can cure the common cold? I am being slightly humorous here, but really, I have never seen so little meaning and felt my time was so wasted. Yet I imagine some people find that 0.01% chance of curing something to be worth it all, to be exciting, to be a good use of one’s life. If those people exist, I am not sure I know any. There has to be a better way…

I don’t mean to be negative. I just think things could be so different, so much better. If only people were convinced it were possible, maybe we could make it happen. All I can do is be the change I want to see in the world. In some ways, that’s easy. For instance, I’ve gone vegan. I could start doing that the very day I decided to. In some ways, it takes time, planning, patience, and work. Maybe now I spend 40 hours a week doing nothing more meaningful than paying my bills (which is of course important in another way), but in those other hours, I am studying, I am talking, I am learning, I am making connections with people. Where will it lead? I don’t know. Even if it all goes the way I want and I’m a physician 10 years from now, I know it won’t all be roses. I will have to deal with laws I think are stupid, people who annoy me, and earwigs finding their way into my bathroom. I will also have a lot of monetary debt.

But I know one thing, whatever I do, it has got to be about more than making money. Even if it’s about making someone the best sandwich they ever had, making their day a little more pleasant–saving them from a moment from the job they think is a kind of a waste of time!

Well, I am going to eat and spend time with my husband. I will try to write more frequently and more positively. I will also try to write in a manner more fitting to paper than to social media, which is increasingly a challenge for me. But a worthwhile challenge, I think. God bless you.

Easter

It comes at a stressful time this year, but what a day, what a thing to celebrate. Today at church the choir, composed mostly of elderly folks, sang songs written hundreds of years ago; and their voices sounded strong and beautiful. The future, that is the small children, fidgeted and made abrupt noises and stared shamelessly at strangers’ faces. Families strolled in late. People walked in solo, too. Others arrived alone, then saved seats for relatives. Men and women from every continent celebrating and worshiping Jesus, some two thousand years later. Many accents saying, “Peace be with you,” and many different hands to shake. Be firm with the young ones, but delicate with the older ones. Such a scene, such an unlikely unity among us all… I just think how can it not be true? I think it is true.

Happy Australia Day (I guess)

Calendars are wonderful for letting you know about holidays that–no offense to anyone–you don’t really care about. Today is Australia Day I found out from my calendar. Yesterday’s masterpiece was a sword hilt I could not see that well, so we’ll just skip it.

What a busy time it’s been. I can’t believe I’m done with school. Actually, I’m probably not–but I’m done for now, and I’m done with that school. I am much more proud to be an alumna than I was to be a student (except perhaps for the first two weeks or so after I was admitted).

My husband and I were really trying to start the next chapter of our life in a different city, but a couple of weeks ago I was looking at the student/alumni career site and saw an opportunity in San Diego that looked really good. It looked so good I decided I would apply to it despite it being here! They emailed me a few days later… and I interviewed a few days after that… and the next day they made me an offer!

I can’t believe how anxious I felt. I have only ever had one panic attack, and thankfully it was brief and I was able to appear pretty normal on the outside (it was at the dentist’s office)… but when I was in that moment of actually making the decision of taking a job/choosing a city for at least the next year/giving up the other opportunities I have/cancelling other interviews/ starting work Monday/etc., I felt overwhelmed. I didn’t panic, but I did have some anxiety tears. In my defense, I only had a day to respond before the offer expired; some positions I would have turned down on principle for that, but like I said, this was such a good opportunity…

So I took it. I start working Monday. But I also have to move Wednesday! Did I mention that?

It’s all okay. There are benefits to staying in this area, such as working on network connections I’ve already made, never needing winter tires, and continuing to eat amazing Mexican food on the regular. The more substantial benefit is the high concentration of excellent schools here, since my husband will be going to college now, and since I will most likely continue my education as well. Still. Someday we’ve gotta move north.

Anyway, today’s masterpiece:

Landscape with Cattle (detail) by Jacob van Strij, oil on wood, ca. 1800.

***I’ll update later—was just gently reminded by husband that it’s time to go visit a place we might rent!! ***

Another Impressionist

Clearly I will not be writing daily! That’s alright. I have been busy with job applications, job interviews, more Netflix than is best, and my 5th wedding anniversary! Besides, the masterpieces du jour over the last few ‘jours’ haven’t been incredibly appealing to me. I’m working AND moving next week, so I have a lot to do–I’ll just get to today’s painting:

The Palace of Westminster (detail) by André Derain, oil on canvas, 1906-7.

I had to do some reading about this artist to understand better the painting. Derain led an interesting life during which he produced art in a variety of styles. This particular painting one might initially identify as Impressionist or neo-Impressionist based on the subject matter and emphasis on light. However, looking at the date of the painting as well as the brilliant and often contrasting colors used–there is little of the Monet softness here–I think the painting is better described as Fauvist, the style with which Derain is most closely associated. Fauvism comes from the French word for ‘wild beasts,’ and one intuitively understands the term after looking at a few fauvist paintings. It isn’t my favorite movement, but it is interesting to look at in historical context. Perhaps it is no surprise that when Derain returned to art after a few years of service in WWI, his style also returned to his training; that is to say he returned to more muted colors and overall classical style. From my cursory reading on his life, it seems he may have died in some disrepute after having visited Nazi Germany and afterwards being labeled a collaborator (thought I am not sure he was one). He is probably one of the few people in the world who have abandoned an education/career in engineering to pursue art, and had it work out for them financially!

 

That’s all for today.

Greek gods, Buddha (maybe), and Paul Cézanne

I have, believe it not, thought to write daily. Unfortunately I have been bogged down with ‘the job search.’ It is a bitter subject! So here are the masterpieces for 16-18 January:

Bacchus and Ariadne (detail) by Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini. Oil on canvas, 1720s.

At first I had difficulty with this painting. My heart said Renaissance, but my mind said, “1720s?” It turns out Pellegrini did paint in a partly Renaissance style, though he did not live during the Renaissance period. Being able to make such distinctions is one of the goals here, so I’m fine with having felt a bit confused! So first, the content–what’s happening? Often when we see Bacchus (aka Dionysus), he is easy to identify by symbols bunches of grapes, wine chalices, or simply a ruddy, drunken-looking face. Not so here. Here, he looks rather young, rather ordinary, and despite the unrealistic pose, is simply presenting a ring to the fair-skinned, blushing Ariadne.

The story as far as I know is that Bacchus found Ariadne abandoned by her father on an island, and eventually married her. I suppose the sky devoid of a city line and also what I believe is the horizon over open ocean indicates their location.

What made me think Renaissance? Firstly, the subject matter. Renaissance art was full of Greco-Roman mythology and the Bible. Maybe some patrons, but that was most of it. Secondly, the relatively low drama. Sure, Ariadne has somewhat of an expression and is blushing, but overall, there is not a lot of emotion on either face; the subject matter itself is rather mundane (I mean, compared to such popular Baroque subjects such as the beheading of Goliath, Holofernes, and John the Baptist); the soft lines and colors, lack of contrast, and treatment of fabric; and the ideal aspects of the figures’ appearances.

What, besides the date, made me say, No… not Renaissance? Firstly, the composition. Renaissance art is typically quite balanced and can be outlined by a triangle, maybe there is some clear perspective added. Think of Michelangelo’s David or Leonardo DaVinci’s The Last Supper. But Pellegrini’s painting is built from a strong diagonal from the upper right down to the lower left corner of the piece, a common characteristic of Baroque art which adds a sense of action, drama, and sometimes a “snapshot” quality to the image. In fact, this is a snapshot, a moment in time, the offering of an engagement ring (though I do not know if the tradition of engagement rings goes so far back).

Anyway, there is really a mix of the Renaissance and Baroque styles in this painting, mainly with respect to composition and subject matter. For instance, though Pellegrini chooses to depict Classical figures, at the same time, he doesn’t choose to paint them symbolizing or enacting some virtue, as you might expect from a Renaissance painter. Rather, he chooses something emotional, perhaps even passionate (a characteristic of the Baroque): a marriage proposal. It is not my favorite painting, but it is good for showing that art does not always fit neatly into the styles and periods taught in school, but is something that grows and evolves and depends on the individual artist, too.

Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara in Water Moon Form (Shuiyue Guanyin). Chinese, Liao dynasty, Willow with traces of pigment, 11th Century.

Man, I do not know a lot about Asian art! I’ll say what I do know: This is a very old and beautiful sculpture, around four feet high, made of wood. I do not know about Chinese art, but I do know the Japanese historically favor natural materials like this, which makes sense considering Eastern spiritual views. If I were to see this sculpture, I would identify the figure as Buddha by the outstretched ear lobes, which represent wisdom–or perhaps an authority figure being portrayed as wise by using a symbol of the Buddha (just as Western patrons have had themselves depicted with symbols of wisdom from the Bible or Greco-Roman mythology).

I remember the word “bodhisattva” from a lecture a long time ago, but had to look it up. A bodhisattva is indeed not the Buddha, but has wisdom like him. Here’s what it means: someone who has reached Enlightenment, but delays Nirvana in order to help others reach Enlightenment. Actually a really beautiful concept and someone worthy of immortalizing in sculpture, I’d say. An analogy would be like if The Virgin Mary would have had the option not to ascend into Heaven, but to stay on Earth for a while to help lead others to Heaven (or maybe she did, I don’t know).

I can’t say much more because I know practically zero about Chinese history or art. The composition is rather serene and balanced, slightly stylized, perhaps representative of physical ideals  of beauty in China at the time (maybe now as well). More information is available via the link above. I’ll have to check it out myself.

Ah, time has flown by pretty quickly actually. I’ll go read a bit more about the piece above, and delve into Cézanne and tomorrow’s masterpiece, well, tomorrow.

A masterpiece a day

… makes you a better art historian.

For the first winter in a while, no one sent me a calendar as a gift, and so this year I chose my own. Because I was in high spirits from having finished school (for now), I went all out. I purchased a daily calendar which is mostly decorative, a wall calendar which is far more useful, and a datebook which I use to log my exercise.

The datebook cost about five dollars and has as its cover the now famous almond tree painting of Van Gogh. Some might say Vincent would have disliked his work being turned into “merch,” but I say that he wanted poor people to have beauty in their homes. I am not poor, but I’m not in a position to be buying legitimate art, nor am I able to create my own. I think he wouldn’t mind.

The wall calendar was also inexpensive, and each month presents a new painting by Sandro Botticelli. I like Early Renaissance painting, it is that simple. I will say of Botticelli that the more I learn, the more I imagine him as sort of a stereotypical macho, sensual Italian man. I will never forget visiting Italy in 2007–at least as recently as that, it was still common and acceptable to quite obviously and vigorously cat call and whistle at women! It isn’t like in the US, or it wasn’t. It was intense. I imagine Botticelli doing this, drinking wine copiously, telling sex jokes to Giuliano de Medici or someone.

Ah, but the point–the real treat–the part that serves no practical purpose–the daily calendar. I might’ve been tempted to get a calendar that tells a joke each day, or maybe a word a day… but over the last four years I have sorely missed reading and writing about art, having been too busy trying to understand the methods of such black magic as thermodynamics and reaction mechanisms. My hearts pounds as I recall it!

So I’ve got a daily calendar, and as often as I can (and as often as I remember and also am not lazy), I will come here and write some notes on the piece of the day. I haven’t written critically about art in a while, so my standards won’t be high at least at first. I need to work on recalling information and analyzing the works before I can move onto creating and supporting any theses. Please read or don’t read, for your own pleasure, but I do recommend any of the links I include! On to it for today then! The cool part is that all the works are at the Met in NY, so I should be able to post links for curious readers to click. Now on to it!

Lydia Crocheting in the Garden at Marly (detail) by Mary Cassatt, oil on canvas, 1880.

It is always interesting to see a work by Cassatt instead of by her male contemporaries. She was, of course, a great Impressionist painter. Born in Pennsylvania, she spent time training, studying, and living in Italy, Germany, and France. She was a colleague of other Greats such as Manet, Monet, and Degas; and her work was shown in four out of eight Impressionist exhibitions at Paris’ famous Salons. An important aspect of Impressionist work is its presentation of light, which brings the viewer’s focus to the subject herself rather than intricate physical details (e.g. detailed, naturalistic representation of lace in a Baroque painting). Indeed, one perceives the brightly shining sun in this painting, though the sun itself is not depicted. An atmosphere is created from color and light, soft lines, and choice of subject matter–and here I have come to what differentiated Cassatt from her contemporaries. While Degas was painting voyeuristic bath scenes and young ballet dancers, Monet was painting series of the same subject under different lighting conditions (lily ponds, rivers, buildings), and Manet was painting risque images of women looking at you (waitresses, prostitutes, etc.), Cassatt was painting Lydia–Cassatt’s own sister. Mary Cassatt painted domestic scenes, and became particularly famous for her warm scenes of mothers and children. She was educated and privileged, and she was acquainted with the avant-garde; but her scenes of women in private are not titillating or invasive–instead they are respectful, comforting, and lovely. One does not become fascinated or curious or shocked (or even disgusted) looking at Lydia, as one might looking at Manet’s Olympia. Instead, one feels at home. We see Lydia like our own sister. We may appreciate her beauty, the elegance of her clothing and manners, sure, but not the way a suitor or a peeping tom might. She goes about her business, and she must be aware of our view because we can see her face. But she does not look at us in order to make a bold statement… or to make any statement at all. We are just family.

Perseverance or denial?

It is hard to believe that I was once a person who received compliments on her writing. I believed as recently as a decade ago that my calling from God in this life was to be a writer, though it was not ever perfectly clear what sort. At first I thought journalism, but I don’t expect that was the Spirit putting it into my head; in those days I was just discovering the history and the great literature and art resulting from the First and Second World Wars.

I made a major decision or two in the pursuit of having something worth writing about.

Now here I am. It is true I am an adult with responsibilities now, which is the usual excuse for abandoning hobbies and old friendships and things. But really I do not have any pets, let alone children. In fact, I do have free time… the sad reality is that nowadays I tend to spend it napping, watching television, or sitting on the couch wishing I could have both free time and energy. There is a cartoon somewhere about how at various stages of life, one can only have two of three of these: time, energy, money. For the most part, the cartoon seems accurate.

Last time I wrote that I remember, it was about mental health. I saw a psychology post-grad who suggested I use my health insurance (which I no longer have, but that is another post) to find a psychiatrist or therapist or whatever I might prefer. I cannot say the appointment was very helpful. I cannot say one thing I learned. I walked away feeling that I am probably rather healthy after all. Truthfully, I would like to have counseling, advice, behavioral training–but maybe it is all a post-modern, superficially complex way of longing for a second childhood. It seems to me I did not learn all I should have the first go round. Even though I am fine, there is still a gap between who I am and who I want to be.

During the meeting, the psychologist asked me how I felt about graduation coming up relatively soon. I said, and I was honest, that I did not feel particular anxiety about it, but rather eagerness to be done with this degree. I still hold that feeling, but now the anxiety has arrived. And the regret. The what ifs. The I should haves. The if only I could do it agains.

Earlier in college I encouraged myself with some of the education news of the day. Folks writing about the elasticity of intelligence, grit, and other topics which to me frankly seem more grounded in belief in the American dream than in reality (though I have not looked to find research on these topics).

So here I am. I am not so good at school, not so good at my job, not so good at a whole lot besides keepin’ on keepin’ on. (This is why I was able to run a marathon once, despite being fat and out of shape and not training–I just go.) So I think, who is right? Am I applying the sunk cost fallacy to my life? Am I being realistic or pessimistic? Am I cutting my losses or just giving up?

I’ve heard it said that it takes something like 10,000 hours of practice to get good at a skill. But I always wonder, are there not people for whom even 20,000 hours practice will not result in them sounding good with a violin?

I was speaking with someone a few months ago, and the cognitive dissonance was real as I encouraged her to study something which she confessed she believed was beyond her ability to learn. I encouraged her and told her it was not beyond her ability, but internally I was asking myself, “Are you sure you think so?”

The truth is I know neither what I want (that is actually achievable: wanting to win the Lotto is not what I mean here) nor what I am capable of. Do I believe there are things beyond my mental abilities? I do and I don’t.

Throughout it all I find myself struggling with faith. I do not mean I don’t believe. I believe strongly enough to fear the possibility of losing my belief. No, I believe. But my zeal is gone and my life does not seem purposeful. For years after my baptism, I read the Bible every day. Every day. I prayed. I remembered God when I looked at a mountain or the sea or a living thing. Now I remember God when I am in the country and have been hiking a little while, and I say, “What is wrong with me? Where is my awe? I forgot this was Creation.” I find myself surrounded by beauty, but still choked by thorns.

Several times in the past year the reading has come up, the parable of the seeds. I am the seed that fell among thorns, and though I grow, I am not fruitful. It was easy not to be preoccupied with worldly things when I was a teen, not paying my own bills, not yet worrying about taking care of my aging parents. It was easy in the Navy too because for all the poor excuses for leadership and for all the danger, the Navy life is pretty easy. Only now in life I have come to the point where I must…

What must I do?

For a couple of years now I have been thinking I would like to become a physician. Of course this is an enormous undertaking. Significant time, effort, and money will be necessary to even gain admittance to a medical school. Supposing I do get myself a short coat, when what? Commit years more of my life to my country (that is also assuming the military would accept me again) or take out over a quarter million dollars in loans to pay for it.

And people pretend to wonder why there is a “diversity problem” in medicine. But that too is another post!

I expressed some of this concern over pursuing a medical career to my mother. She asked if it was my call or not. Always in church we are praying to God for those called to priesthood or religious life, praying for those who are discerning, spreading the word about “exploration days” at local monasteries and such. I have heard a calling story or two, and knew a seminary student once, in his forties, who has previously been an electrical engineer. How do you hear the call? Is there a call for everyone (to different things)? Or is there a general call to do the church’s mission and to live a holy life, which a Christian may do however she sees fit?

I do not know of course. I have prayed lately for a call, but I am not committed to the prayer. Of course God knows this. It is hard to ask God for something when you are not sure it is something he really does–sure he could do it, but does he want to? Does he think it’s a good idea? I am reminded of the ancient Hebrews’ desire for a king, since all the other tribes had one. I do not know where in the Bible this story is told, but it’s true. God told them it wasn’t a good idea. “Look,” I’m paraphrasing, “See how much good it does the other nations to have kings. With kings come taxes and wars and strife. But you have Me for a king.” But they didn’t listen, so God did give them a king. Then it was just as bad as God told them it would be.

Well, I allotted myself 40 minutes to write. Perhaps I have not come to my point exactly, but I have come to the end of that time period and must be off.