Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
Back in the day, when I was deeply involved in the Transcendental Meditation program, some of those of us who were starting to look askance at where "the Movement" (as it was called by insiders) was taking us would sit around and talk about the Spiritual Rat Race. The SRR can be found in any number of New Age groups, and amounts to a sort of competition among True Believers (Robespierre comes to mind, but that's politics) for doing the right things, saying the right things, and being Spiritually Correct in all outward appearances. It had to do with keeping up with the latest thing, whether it be rudrash beads, yogic flying techniques, or just the right sort of incense you burned during the puja. When you come to realize that Cosmic Consciousness is just the first step on the path to getting off of the great mendalla; that God Consciousness is followed by Unity Consciousness and there's no way this foul sojourner will get there in this lifetime, its time to maybe rethink the path.
"A new Pew study, released last week, shows that Americans are swingers as well as switchers, flirting with religious beliefs and practices other than their own without officially changing their religious affiliation. Catholic leaders have long denounced 'Cafeteria Catholics' for going down the line and picking and choosing the Catholic beliefs and practices they choose to uphold. According to this new study, Americans as a group are now bellying up to what my Boston University colleague John Berthrong has referred to as the 'divine deli.'"
"Once upon a time, Baptists and Lutherans and Disciples of Christ fought bitterly over such matters as when to baptize Christians and just how Jesus was present at the Eucharist. But that stuff is so last century. Today even the distinctions between Jews and Buddhists, or between Hindus and Christians, are starting to blur, not least because most Americans have almost no idea what these traditions stand for....contemporary Americans know almost nothing about their own religious traditions and even less about the traditions of others. Most Americans cannot name any of the Four Gospels, and an overwhelming majority admit to being wholly ignorant about Islam. So we shuffle from one to the other with little sense of what is being lost (or gained) in the process."
"Absent a chain of memory that ties us to these religion's ancient truths, these visions are lost, and we are left to our own devices, searching for God with as much confusion as we search, in love, for the next new thing."I naturally have a problem with all of these ancient traditions actually having spiritual truths--to say nothing of The Truth--but his point is nevertheless apropos to the sorts of things going on in Lutheran churches all over this land.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Peggy Noonan, in her usual Saturday Wall Street Journal column, has some things to say about what people are saying about the new president that brought this quote to mind. I'd call Noonan a moderate, although she did work for Ronald Reagan and was a speechwriter in the first Bush presidency. Nevertheless, she has a more even hand than many conservative pundits these days.Then King Rehoboam took counsel with the old men, who had stood before Solomon his father while he was yet alive, saying, "How do you advise me to answer this people?" And they said to him, "If you will be a servant to this people today and serve them, and speak good words to them when you answer them, then they will be your servants forever." But he abandoned the counsel that the old men gave him and took counsel with the young men who had grown up with him and stood before him. And he said to them, "What do you advise that we answer this people who have said to me, 'Lighten the yoke that your father put on us'? And the young men who had grown up with him said to him, "Thus shall you speak to this people who said to you, 'Your father made our yoke heavy, but you lighten it for us,' thus shall you say to them, 'My little finger is thicker than my father's thigh. And now, whereas my father laid on you a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.'"I KINGS 12:6-11
...[w]hile the president was in Asia last week, "a critical mass of influential people who once held big hopes for his presidency began to wonder whether they had misjudged the man."... They once held "an unromantically high opinion of Obama,"...but now they are concluding that the president isn't "the person of integrity and even classiness they had thought."MY thought on this is: "On what basis did they come to their initial conclusions?" which has been my question from the time Obama arose out of the obscurity of the Illinois state senate. It seems that supporters from the beginning have ascribed to the man whatever their own hopes and aspirations are. The movie BEING THERE is a comical but close approximation of what I think went on. If they are now coming to different conclusions, then it is not Obama that is to blame, but their own delusions of who this man is. Bottom line: we are still finding out.
...the president's Asia trip suggested "a disturbing amateurishness in managing America's power." The president's Afghanistan review has been "inexcusably clumsy," Mideast negotiations have been "fumbling." ...He added that rather than bowing to emperors--Mr. Obama "seems to do this stuff spontaneously and inexplicably"--he should begin to bow to "the voices of experience" in Washington.When longtime political observers start calling for wise men, a president is in trouble.
She sco[u]red "the Chicago crowd" which she characterized as "a distressingly insular and small-minded West Wing team." The White House, Ms. Drew says, needs adult supervision--"an older, wiser head, someone with a bit more detachment."
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
"WB2X9154 IGNITER KIT:"Remove all parts necessary to provide access to defective igniter."
"Reattach the wires the same as the old igniter, using the ceramic wire connectors enclosed in kit."
WARNING! "Electrical Shock Hazard. Disconnect power supply before servicing!"
Barack Obama promised us not only transparency, but also a new respect for science. In soothing tones, he asserted that his administration was “restoring scientific integrity to government decision-making.”
In our new Enlightenment of Ivy League Guardians, we were to return to the rule of reason and logic. Obama would lead us away from the superstitious world of Bush’s evangelical Christianity, “intelligent design,” and Neanderthal moral opposition to human-embryo stem-cell research.
Instead, we are seeing an unprecedented distortion of science — indeed, an attack on the inductive method itself. Facts and reason are trumped by Chicago-style politics, politically correct dogma, and postmodern relativism.
Western inductive thinking used to teach us to look at facts and collate symptoms. (E.g., we have observed a number of killers evoking Islam, yelling out “Allahu Akbar!” at the moment of their murdering, or post facto, bragging unrepentantly of murdering Jews and infidels.)
Then one makes a diagnosis based on such empirical findings. (E.g., unlike the case with radical anti-abortionists or violent environmentalists, in the last eight years we have witnessed a series of unhinged Muslim males who have justified their violent actions through affinities with, or promotion of, radical Islam.)
All those data lead to a scientific conclusion and prognosis. (E.g., while only a small proportion of Muslims have committed violent attacks, over the past eight years there have been dozens of cases in which angry Muslim males have attacked Jewish centers or U.S. military personnel, and have shot or deliberately run over individual Americans. Therefore, there is a danger that a subset of young Muslims is disproportionately committing terrorist acts. Furthermore, the combination of disaffected Muslim males and ubiquitous jihadist propaganda, together with Western denial, will logically lead both to more formal plots and to more lone-wolf attacks.)
But not so fast: Remember, we are now in an age of superstition, not rationalism, in which utopian ends justify unscientific means.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
It’s a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty – a kind of leaning over backwards. For example, if you’re doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid–not only what you think is right about it: other causes that could possibly explain your results; and things you thought of that you’ve eliminated by some other experiment, and how they worked – to make sure the other fellow can tell they have been eliminated.
Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given, if you know them. You must do the best you can – if you know anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong – to explain it. If you make a theory, for example, and advertise it, or put it out, then you must also put down all the facts that disagree with it, as well as those that agree with it. There is also a more subtle problem. When you have put a lot of ideas together to make an elaborate theory, you want to make sure, when explaining what it fits, that those things it fits are not just the things that gave you the idea for the theory; but that the finished theory makes something else come out right, in addition.
In summary, the idea is to try to give all of the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgment in one particular direction or another.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
ME: I've been thinking about incarnational theology again.
JESSE: An excellent pasttime.
ME: I've been wondering if you have any insight into, or can point me to
someone with insight into Jesus' acts of spitting to cure the deaf
and the blind men in Mark?
I'm thinking about it in terms of baptism and the Lord's Supper: is this somehow connected: the desire of the Lord to connect the physical world with the spiritual in forgiveness and healing? I'm thinking also about the Fall, how creation itself is broken. When Jesus spit, was part of the message that he was healing, or
promising to heal, Creation?
JESSE: I haven't seen anything about healing creation, but the connection to the means of grace is something I've used before. Asking why He healed the senses through spit is like asking why He washes sins away and bestows spiritual life with water.
ME: Well, actually, most questions from the reformed have to do with that, so I am looking to connect as broadly as possible the incarnation and the work of the Incarnation. When people say, "Oh, baptism is just symbolic", with the implication that the sign points elsewhere and therefore we shouldn't put too much emphasis on the sign, then I think, "So we shouldn't put too much emphasis on the incarnation of Christ, should we?" That often stops 'em.
As to why, not sure I care. You are right: answer one part of it, we answer it all. "why did Jesus spit?" "Why did Jesus condescend to be born a man?" There HAS to be a connection.
The fact that there are other times he doesn't use matter in healing doesn't undermine these examples, I think. But it does confuse the issue just a bit. Was it Jesus' mood at the time? :)
JESSE: Actually, I don't have a satisfying answer, unless it's satisfying to know that He has redeemed our bodies as well as our souls for eternal life. Yet that still doesn't tell us "why." Why did Naaman have to dip seven times in the Jordan? When we have the answer to one of these questions, I think we'll have the answer to all of them. Part of the problem may be the disconnect that we assume between the physical and the spiritual. There are not two creations, but one. Easily overlooked physical events may have spiritual implications, consequences, or causes: a good reason to use the liturgy and pay attention to our posture and movements in worship.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
January 7--Munich-Dachau:A concentration camp, I have found, looks quite similar to an army barracks--that is--twenty-five years after being used...Dachau was the scene, from 1933 through 1945, of 31,591--or more--deaths: mainly Jews, Russians, or German resisters. I walked to the gate with a South African acquaintance, who was in the midst of a two-week whirlwind tour of Europe...We first entered the museum, which resides in the main building at the head of an area that used to be barracks. In front of these stands the "roll-call" area, where prisoners used to be tortured--after anyone managed to escape--by being forced to stand at attention for one night and half a day.The museum mainly consists of documents and pictures that have been blown up and posted within two or three large rooms, rooms that were used for storage. In a pinch, when there was a scarcity of room, these were torture chambers. The pictures digress from the original building of Dachau through the first prisoners in 1933, to 1938. They finally end in some photos of starving, bony men cheering as they are freed, and the aftermath when American soldiers find "the morgue" full of hundreds of dead bodies.My friend and I walk down the rows of barracks, all gone now except for two or three; we walked where thousands of hungry, tired prisoners walked, or trudged, or crawled. At the end of the lane, to the left and through a gate, stands a statue of a hungry, dirty POW. Behind it is The Building. We walked in through an empty room to the Ovens. A sign hanging from a large wooden support read, "Prisoners were hung here." This was directly in front of the third of five ovens. There were open, showing what amounted to a great baker's oven, seven feet long and two feet wide. Walking through this room into the next, I felt something akin to depression as I tried to imagine the attitudes and consciousness of men accustomed to seeing others being tortured and hung. I couldn't imagine it.We entered "The Showers" which were never used at Dachau (the showers at the Hartheim Castle, near Linz Austrian, were apparently "much better"). These are actually gas chambers, disguised so that prisoners wouldn't kick up a fuss while being taken there, etc. It is just an empty room with several holes in the ceiling, from which gas would have come.And that was all. It didn't impress one, all clean and tidy, as being a dangerous unusual place. But the story behind it all makes one imagine that one sees machine guns and Nazis in the towers, and that one hears trudging footsteps, and a voice crying out in total, frustrated despair. I left quietly.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
The oftener the measure is brought under examination, the greater the diversity in the situations of those who are to examine it, the less must be the danger of those errors which flow from want of due deliberation, or of those missteps which proceed from the contagion of some common passion or interest. It is far less probable, that culpable views of any kind should infect all the parts of the government at the same moment and in relation to the same object, than that they should by turns govern and mislead every one of them.The populist, rash House has passed a travesty of a bill: emotional, power-hungry, the dream of any decent far leftist. Well, with the exception of federal funding for abortion for any female of any species. Things should not go so well in the Senate, where a "greater diversity" of situations and opinions should help bring some sanity to what is a crazy bad piece of legislation.
Friday, November 13, 2009
There is a really good interview with the author of THE ROAD in today's Wall Street Journal. A few snippets:
Thursday, November 12, 2009
How are you all doing? Glad to see the blog continues. Got sick of seeing that stupid tray every time I clicked on the link.
Very cool tray btw, no joke.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
I do not know how strong in spirit others may be, but I cannot make myself so holy, even if I were so learned and Spirit-filled as some fancy themselves to be. But my experience is always that when I am without the Word, when I do not think about it or occupy myself with it, then no Christ is present nor indeed are any spiritual desires. But as soon as I take up a psalm or a passage of Scripture, it so shines and burns in my heart that I gain a different mood and mind. And I know that everyone will daily epxerience this for himself.
Martin Luther, Luthers Works 69, P. 18
That's what I love about Luther: he so well and honestly expresses my own daily experience. Try this with Calvin, and you always end up feeling inadequate.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Necessity is the mother of several other things besides invention.
I found this in a hilarious short story by the author entitled THE KING OF THE BIRDS, which is about peacocks. While it bodes of something deep and profound, it was just about peacocks. And peahens.
Ha! How long and deep is the list that could fit under the rubric "It's not an activity that waits upon talent"! I'm duly humbled, and you should be too. But is there really such a thing as "no manners at all"? I'm trying still to wrap my mind around that concept.
Manners are of such great consequence to the novelist that any kind will do. Bad manners are better than no manners at all, and because we are losing our customary manners [She speaks of the South here], we are probably overly conscious of them; this seems to be a condition that produces writers. In the South there are more amateur authors than there are rivers and streams. It's not an activity that waits upon talent. In almost every hamlet you'll find at least one lady writing epics in Negro dialect and probably two or three old gentlemen who have impossible historical novels on the way. The woods are full of regional writers, and it is the great horror of every serious Southern writer that he will become one of them.
No manners at all. Would that be like "no taste"? I've been accused of that.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
*I. uh, I made that up.
Writing to his brother Lucien on Christmas Day, 1799, Napoleon Bonaparte wrote:
A big AMEN to that. The recurring problem I have with a massive takeover of anything by government is that gummint, by nature, is sleepy and unproductive. Its real success lies in the absolute need for its workers to be dedicated and devoted, in a way that is supplied naturally to owners and private operators by, hate to say it, the motive of profit and pride. That is difficult to sustain year after year when one has no PERSONAL interest in the stewardship to which he/she is called. When an entire bureaucracy is asked to sustain it, the results are going to be much much worse than the fettered capitalism we now enjoy.
"Whilst an individual owner, with a personal interest in his property, is always wide awake, and brings his plans to fruition, communal interest is inherently sleepy and unproductive, because individual enterprise is a matter of instinct, and communal enterprise is a matter of public spirit, which is rare."
Bearce published the original Devil's Dictionary as "The Cynic's Word Book" in 1906; a guide to the code language which permeated the cultural landscape of the day.
The Journal's version is an attempt to humorously update and focus on the devolution of terms during this endless financial mess we are in. A few examples:
TARP,n. acronym. 1. A synthetic device designed to cover up an unsightly mess, or to protect perishable goods (firewood, banks) from the ravages of the elements, typically costing somewhere between $12.99 and $700 billion.
2. Prime example of how governments use otherwise anodyne acronyms, abbreviations and sports metaphors to disguise matters of controversy. See also TALF, TLGP, TURF, FHFA, BACKSTOP, WRAP, OFHEO, and SPECTRE.
CREDIT-DEFAULT SWAP, n. loose translation from the original Latin "ubi mel ibi apes," or "where there's honey there are bees".
1. A complex financial instrument vital to the functioning of a modern economy in the way it spreads risk among consenting parties (Greenspan, A., pre-Sept. 2008).
2. A complex financial instrument that nearly destroyed modern capitalism (Greenspan, A., post-Sept. 2008).
GREEN SHOOTS,n. 1. The first signs of spring, often clobbered by summer's heat and autumn's rain. 2. A sign the economy is falling apart more slowly than previously tought. Related: DAISIES, PUSHING UP. See also THINKING, WISHFUL.
DEFICIT,n. For the party in power, at worst a minor irritant and at best a precondition for economic growth. For the minority, the gravest threat to the stability of the Republic.
Methinks the Journal has grown cynical in its old age.
Monday, August 31, 2009
"A good case officer with Middle Eastern languages and a penchant for understanding Islamic radicalism would now have to be insane to accept an assignment that detailed him to interrogate Islamic terrorist suspects. No self-respecting case officer wants to be constantly surveilledby his boss. That's not the way the intelligence business works, which is, when it works, an idiosyncratic, intimate affair. We should be horrified by the idea that holy warriors will now be questioned by operatives who tolerate all the cover-your-trash paperwork, who don't mind being videoed when they go to work, who want to be second-guessed by their CIA bosses, let alone by FBI agents, and intelligence-committee Congressional staffers, and now White House officials."While Obama has retained the practice of rendition, and while we are likely in a period--unlike the years 2001 to 2003--when interrogation will be less frequent, what Gerecht most deplores is the removal of the tools of the trade for interrogators.
"...With enhanced interrogation off-limits, CIA operatives could easily find themselves face-to-face with a jihadist who tells them to bugger off. What are they then to do? Will their superiors be professionally sensitive to their inability to make further progress? Could they get promoted after they pass suspected jihadists to the FBI? Would the FBI even take them, knowing that they might have to be rendered to an unsavory foreign power and thereby quite possibly compromise the bureau's more pristine image?..."The CIA "hardly did a superlative job.." in its fight against Islamic militarism. Nevertheless, I have to believe we're back on the clock again, awaiting the next major strike. Thanks to the Obama justice department, America is once again much less safe.
It is the theology behind it that intrigued me, motivating me to slog back in to the C Barrel, make my excuse, and snap the picture. Have we finally found the succinct, theological summary of neo-evangelicalism? C'mon, confessional Lutherans, expound!
Or is it just too obvious?
Come to mull on it, this plaque describes the starting point of Roman Catholicism as well, doesn't it?
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Truthfully, though, you really didn't want him to take you for a ride. The guy had a tendency to show off. Plus, he'd had a few accidents. His first BMW pretty much died one Father's Day, when my wife and I went riding with him--Deb and I riding my old Yamaha 500 with its dented gas tank. We'd pretty much safely made it up into the Baraboo hills, when Dad suddenly went swooshing past us, up over a hill and soaring down into a valley, on one of the Hills' famous little windy roads. Two things happened at the bottom of the hill: the road veered right. And it turned to gravel. Sort of hard to see from the top of the hill, or while going 60 on a motorcycle.
Dad didn't quite make the veer, and disappeared in a cloud of dust into a rapidly narrowing gully. By the time we caught up to him, he was standing next to a smoking motorcycle. Bloodied but unbowed.
End of ride.
He had a new bike three days later. Some guys just never learn.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
The article begins:
The strangest monument in America looms over a barren knoll in northeastern Georgia. Five massive slabs of polished granite rise out of the earth in a star pattern. The rocks are each 16 feet tall, with four of them weighing more than 20 tons apiece. Together they support a 25,000-pound capstone. Approaching the edifice, it's hard not to think immediately of England's Stonehenge or possibly the ominous monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Built in 1980, these pale gray rocks are quietly awaiting the end of the world as we know it.Definitely worth the read.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
"We have just four months. Four months to secure the future of our planet."This is in reference to a UN environmental conference in Copenhagen in December.
However, it smacks of the sorts of dire predictions--based in my opinion upon about the same quality of data--that religious fundies often spout.
Check out this website for a list of recent end-of-world predictions. Do we have two disparate types of fanatics now, each predicting similar things? And gosh. Is one of them the head of the United Nations?
Saturday, August 8, 2009
"Some might point out, correctly, that the softball gods were merely punishing me for committing the cardinal sin of failing to call off the shortstop..."Grrrrr. I have no sense of humor about this sort of little gaffe.
A NEW THERAPY ON FAITH AND SEXUAL IDENTITY .
For years there has been a serious wall erected by the American Psychological Association and other groups, insisting (based upon what many consider questionable science, or soft science, or just plain anecdotal evidence) that sexual orientation is fixed and unalterable. The direction this position tended to take was to tell people who are struggling with being homosexual that there was and should be no way to change, and that gays should embrace their identity.
This provoked a lot of conflict within some people vis a vis their faith. If the shrinks were right, did this mean their faith teachings were wrong? For many, this was the conclusion they came to, and then went about reshaping their doctrinal positions to accomodate the teachings of the psychologists and psychiatrists and gay activists. For others, the conflict just kept getting deeper, with many men and women unable to reconcile their sexual feelings with their beliefs.
To the credit of the association, there are new APA guidelines that have amended the longstanding practices of counselors somewhat. It came about as a result of a task force, initially formed to respond to the increasing numbers of "change therapists" out there--presumably mostly Christian--who were claiming that arousal patterns could be changed. The article goes on:
The new guidelines aren't without many glass walls.
"But the task force also gained an appreciaiton for the pain some men and women feel in trying to reconcile their sexual attractions with their faith...The task force acknowledged that for those from conservative faiths, affirming a gay identity could feel very much like renouncing their religious identity..."
"...The therapist must make clear that homosexuality doesn't signal a mental or emotional disorder. The counselor must advise clients that gay men and women can lead happy and healthy lives, and emphasize that there is no evidence therapy can change sexual orientation.Well. Progress. Gay rights activists aren't necessarily thrilled about the new guidelines. Some call them incredibly misguided, likely to cause great suffering. They make statements like, "People have their lives destroyed." I personally think too many experts are telling too many people they are having their lives destroyed, usually because these poor sops aren't lining up behind the experts' agendas. These people also don't understand the import of faith, and how faith shapes lives.
"But if the client still believes that affirming his same-sex attractions would be sinful or destructive to his faith, psychologists can help him construct an identity that rejects the power of those attractions, the APA says. That might require living celibately, learning to deflect sexual impulses or framing a life of struggle as an opportunity to grow closer to God."
Friday, July 31, 2009
Teeing off on the first hole, one dives down into a sharp crease of a valley, and then descends up a wide ski slope of a hill to--somewhere up there--a green. We duly teed off, with Colin's long drive getting pulled into the rough between the outward bound first fairway and the inward bound, parallel ninth fairway. I hit my second shot, from much further back from where Colin's drive landed, and drove the golfcart up to where he was comparing golfballs with the couple who were headed downward on the ninth fairway.
The woman peered at me, then said,
"Hello! Do you have a blog?"
"Yes, I guess I do."
"Is your name Bruce?" Ohoh.
"Yyyyeah..." Who would this be? Perfect strangers, these two. Yes I am Bruce, yes I have a blog. Why am I being asked this on a hillside on a golfcourse near Barneveld?
"My name is Mary; I spent last week with your wife at the Higher Things conference! I recognized you from your blog photo!"
Too weird. Later, alone, I asked Colin if I was that recognizable across a span of golfcourse rough.
"Yeah. The goatee, the robust grey hair...You're pretty recognizable."
Saturday, July 11, 2009
It has been a cool July; sky blue and the large shop windows opened inward to allow a breeze. Inside, the sedir bed has taken shape, a long low platform with drawers, nothing fancy, the work of a week. A Turkish quilt and imported pillows will flesh out the decor. My job is to simply give them a resting place.
I'm counting out the final things in my mind, the little project minutiae that do not make it onto the flat scripted plan but are there to be done: pilot holes counter sunk in pine planks; maple pulls turned and installed; drawer front edges veneered; drawer fronts fitted and installed,; exposed surfaces sanded. Finally, the marking of parts, and disassembly and then off to the finishing room.
My client I've had for many years. Our relationship started with refinishing a formal dining room of furniture, and has grown to the point where, when I drop by for a project, I get coffee, talk politics and culture, and take a tour of their rock garden. They've just returned from Cappodoccia, Turkey, where a niece lives in a cave, something in that dry country that is actually as interesting and comfortable as the image is strange . A land of caves. Deep in the cave home is a sedir bed, a low platform upon which sit sumptuous and comfortable mattress and pillows. Being smitten with it, and thinking of a little room in their home back home, they have purchased and shipped the requisite, floral, black and red Turkish pillows, and only require the platform itself, modified for American tastes. And so the email came to me, asking if I might be interested in building the platform, the Sedir bed.
The shop has recently been cleaned. Piles of wood cut-offs, neglected since last Summer's building projects (these furniture-making sprees seem to be a Summer occurence, going back years); a pile of wood chips behind the planer; table saw and post sander and jointer and bandsaw surfaces needing a good cleaning and lubrication. I had the son of a friend over to help with the project, a day's work of hauling wood chips out to the raspberry patch, cutting and stacking fireplace wood, and dragging the plywood cutoffs out to the burn-pile. So, some semblance of order, like a clean kitchen before the creation of a feast. Everything works better, tools are where they are meant to be, the mind is more orderly and at ease.
A lithe, dangerous orange and white teenaged cat wanders in, chasing his fancy and the hopes of little things to bat around, things to climb on, things to nibble. He gets promptly turned around and sent back out the door. He is not yet shop cat. I'll let some of that young feline energy dissipate before letting him loose among the fresh finishes, fine wood furniture pieces, and power tools.
A bit of lathe work. Turning drawer pulls goes like this: the first one is spontaneous and creative, following a pattern developed over many years but always with a little variation. All of the subsequent pulls are laborious, an effort of copying closely the first, spontaneous effort. Squares of maple are cross-cut on the table saw, diagonal lines drawn on one face to find center, then corners band-sawn off before a center pilot hole is drill-pressed, and finally onto the lathe, one at a time. I select four or five lathe tools from a motley collection of an unmatched dozen or so, sharpen them quickly on the vertical sanding belt, and get to work. When doing lathe work, you cut or you scrape. The cutting action takes more skill but is cleaner and very much more satisfying, a laying of the bevel of the tool against the wood and slowing rotating the cutting edge into the work. It is something like that satisfaction of learning to ski: first the [scraping] laborious snowplow, and later the slow evolution into [cutting] parallel skiing, culminating in perfect, blissful, controlled floating down a mountain. With lathe work, there are occasional very nervous events as one learns how to apply the tool to this swiftly rotating spindle or chunk of wood. The two maple pulls turn out well, and I'm off to the next little thing.
This shop and I have been together for 23 years. I built it after working out of a garage for two years,. Like all relationships, after awhile we have taken each other for granted. The shop was mine before I was the shop's. Some part of the angst of
difficult, sleep-denying problem jobs has rubbed off on this place, so that at times I haven't liked it at all. There is also this other thing: a deepening sense of attachment. So many pieces have come through here, to be mended, sanded, color matched, finished. And many furniture pieces have had their origin here, taking a shape from ideas, plans, rough boards, plywood. Perhaps it is a growing sense, finally, that I know what I am doing and can relax a little, trusting my experience and the vocational guidance of the holy spirit.
The Sedir bed, stained and finished, will go out at the end of next week, making room for the next collection of broken furniture in need of mending.