Back on vacation, so ... I've got a legitimate excuse for being late this week :).
The Wednesday Hodgepodge is courtesy of From This Side of The Pond.
1. On Saturday July 4th America celebrates her Independence. What is your favorite thing about the day? Your favorite food on the 4th? Do you fly a flag at your house? Fireworks-yay or nay? Any special plans this year?
Independence Day is ... weird for me.
Part of it is because I see two kinds of patriotism practiced on days like today: the humble pride in the good things that our country has provided for its inhabitants, and the myopic, paternalistic, "America-right-or-wrong" attitudes that accomplish nothing. The two forms get co-mingled so much that I get uncomfortable with almost any display of patriotism.
Part of it is that I'm conscious that my first allegiance is to the Kingdom of God, not the United States of America. And it's hard for me to get extremely passionate about my secondary citizenship.
As for the day itself ... we don't have many traditions, if any. In part, that's because July 4th often coincides in some manner with our family vacation to Cedar Campus, and so the day is sometimes spent at the campground, or on the road traveling home from vacation, or (like today) unpacking from vacation and running laundry.
We do fly a flag, and have for years. Regrettably, we don't always take care of it as we should. A year or two ago, Jane got a solar light for it, so that when we forget to bring it in at night, the illumination on the flag still makes it in conformity to the Flag Code (I think...).
2. What's something you recently got for free?
A few weeks ago, while I was at the AP Computer Science Reading in Kansas City, I attended a geocaching event and met a large number of cachers from both Kansas City and from across the country. I won a trackable keychain in the raffle. I helped repay the good fortune a couple weeks later ... one of the event organizers got unexpectedly stuck in Detroit when he missed a plane connection, and I hooked him up with the local geocaching group in the Detroit area to take him to an event and show him the sights.
3. The Statue of Liberty, The Liberty Bell, The Washington Monument, or Mount Rushmore...how many on the list have you seen? What is your favorite historical American monument, and why?
I saw the Statue of Liberty in high school, but only from a distance. The Statue was closed that year for extensive renovations. I've seen the Washington Monument a number of times, as I've managed to get to DC a few times on business travel (and a vacation last year).
My favorite historical American monument is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. I have always been fascinated and touched by the ways that the US military (and other militaristic organizations) remembers its fallen comrades --- the riderless horse, the missing man formation, and so on. The simplicity and the grandeur of the Tomb always touches me. Whenever I go to DC, if I can manage a couple of hours of "tourist time" into the schedule, I try to make it over to Arlington.
This year, my daughter and wife visited the Tomb while on a three-day field trip to DC. My daughter was chosen to be part of the school's "honor guard" to present a wreath at the Tomb.
4. When it comes to the news are you more ostrich (stick my head in the sand) or hog (they have room to take a whole lot in)? How much attention have you given the recent news reports regarding ISIS and the acts of terror they've perpetrated against those who do not share their beliefs or support their cause?
Over the last decade, I've become more ostrich than hog. It's not that I'm uninterested. It's just that I've realized that getting worked up about things in the news accomplishes very little. Politically, I'm a red voter in an extremely blue district. And so while I'll continue to participate in elections and vote my convictions, I'm also aware that there's very little I can do. There are far too many things in my life that I can affect for me to waste time and energy on matters for which I'll have little-to-no effect.
As to ISIS reports ... the objective of ISIS is to create terror. If I don't obsess over the reports, I can't be terrorized. Win.
5. We're talking plain ice cream...vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry? Choose one.
For me, it's probably vanilla. If we're not talking about gourmet ice cream ... an ordinary chocolate or strawberry ice cream can really seem artificial. It's hard to screw up vanilla ice cream.
6. Share a song you love containing the word 'stars' in the lyrics or title?
----"Great Is Thy Faithfulness" (v. 2)
7. Describe and/or say goodbye to June with an acrostic.
Jaunts, for work and for play
Upper Peninsula adventures (at Cedar Campus)
Nights with games with familyh
Ending vacation, as work begins in July
8. Insert your own random thought here.
This week at Cedar Campus, the speaker preached on Ezekiel 47:1-12. The primary image is unusual, and startling: a river of fresh water that flows into the Dead Sea, turning the Dead Sea into fresh water. That's not the way the world works; in such situations, usually the salt water in the Dead Sea starts to leech backwards into the river. Of course, that's why this is a miraculous image.
I'm starting to wonder if I can think about my life as a University professor in those terms. I'm increasingly feeling like my life goals aren't in complete harmony with those of the academy. Maybe what I'm called to be is a stream of fresh water that brings healing into a dead sea.