Monthly Archives: September 2014

Disposable Cars

Most Saturdays I eavesdrop on my husband while he listens to Ed Wallace’s Wheels on KLIF. While I love cars, I don’t know a whole lot about them, so I pick up good tips from Wallace. His Backside of American History is pretty interesting, as well. This morning, a caller mentioned a Toyota sports car no longer on the market. The discussion turned to great little cars at $5,000 over production price and it made me recall my favorite little car: a Suzuki Esteem.

Built like a sports car for motorcyclists, the Esteem was my first standard transmission car. I fell in love with it instantly, and it was a sad day when we finally had to let it go for parts.

So much of our culture today is built around “disposable” products, it seems to me only common sense to design a “disposable” car; something small, affordable, efficient and yet appealing to the “sports car” mentality.

Car manufacturers, for the most part, really want customers to keep purchasing new cars on a regular basis; however, most cars are so expensive due to manufacturing and labor costs that a family tends to keep a family car for 10-15 years if possible. Wouldn’t it make more sense to churn out disposable cars at low prices which could be replaced every five years?

Unrealistic and impossible? Maybe. Perhaps we just aren’t willing to appeal to the unreached market segments of society. After all, it’s more profitable to put money into research for improving “sure thing” products. New ideas are risky and costly: the polio vaccine, the Oregon Trail, the Space Race, portable radios, personal computers, etc.

Maybe it’s time for some new blood in the automotive market, and maybe it’s time some entrepreneurs backed those new ideas.

In Defense of Heroes

With great anticipation, I settled into my recliner; a bowl of popcorn and a Dr. Pepper beside me and clicked the remote. I’d waited for months for The Winter Soldier to make it to Redbox and I was eager to see my favorite Avenger in action again.

After sitting through the credits for the dénouement scenes and final wrap, I remembered thinking, “What just happened?” Not that the movie was bad; it wasn’t. It was action packed and the audience got to see Cap in some serious action. But it wasn’t the “feel good,” “good guys win,” “heroes in action” movie I’d waited to see

Captain America got lost in the all the special effects. His “knight in shining armor” personality was still intact, but all the strength, determination, “fight for what’s right” action became diluted by the story’s moody plot

Once again Hollywood proved itself adept at despising a happy ending and showed their biases: that evil is stronger than good, true heroes are wimps, and there is no wonder left in the universe

I know some folks will say, “That was the whole point of the story.” Maybe, but that’s not Captain America’s story. The Marvel character was created during a time when the world needed heroes, not just superheroes; men who stood for something no matter the cost. The same need exists today; don’t believe me, just pick up a newspaper, check out Yahoo, or watch CNN. Loss of ideals runs rampant in our society and we need heroes, not “miracles.”

Maybe it’s because most folks in Hollywood have never met real heroes, people who do what’s right just because it’s right; people who serve others with no regard for themselves; people who put the welfare of the community ahead of personal gain; people who aren’t going to get accolades or pats on the back or their name on Google, but who continue to be heroes day by day, every day. They surround us wearing uniforms of blue or yellow on our city streets, they show up in classrooms and hospitals, they work two or more jobs to put food on the table and a give their children a better chance, they stand up to the bullies in the school locker room or cafeteria to defend those weaker than themselves

The “age of heroes” isn’t over; Hollywood is just looking in the wrong direction.

Classical Literature in a Nutshell

Recently, I read a post about a back-to-school classical literature reading list, and I was not surprised to find it filled with depressing, dark books. Over the years, I have discovered that what constitutes “classical” by the English profession seems to have changed over the years; although, I do recall wondering in high school why so much of the American literature we read in school fell into the same dark and depressing category.

So what does constitute “classical” literature beyond a recommendation by prestigious collegiate pundits? According to the dictionary, classical literature is “of ancient Greece and Rome. The term is also used for the literature of any language in a period notable for the excellence and enduring quality of its writers’ works.”

Excellence and enduring quality. Maybe that’s the problem. Our definition of “excellence” has deteriorated until we can no longer distinguish between what is high quality and what merely appeals to the masses. What we read is who we are, what we become. If we only read what is dark and depressing and lacking in anything uplifting, then that is what we as a people, as a nation, as individuals become. Books with happy, uplifting endings are not necessarily “low-brow,” while being dark doesn’t automatically mark a book as “cerebral.

If I were to re-tool America’s classical reading list, I would included these books:

David Copperfield — Charles Dickens

The Scarlet Piimpernel — Baroness Orczy

The Bronze Bow — Elizabeth George Speare

Trumpeter of Krakaw— Eric P. Kelly

The Taming of the Shrew — William Shakespeare

The Lord of the Rings — J. R. R. Tolkien

Around the World in 80 Days — Jules Verne

Lorna Doone — R. D. Blackmoore

Robinson Crusoe – Daniel Defoe

The Phantom Tollbooth –Norton Juster

Captain Courageous — Rudyard Kipling

The Screwtape Letters — C. S. Lewis

Paradise Lost — John Milton

The Prisoner of Zenda — Anthony Hope

Treasure Island — Robert Louis Stevenson

Watership Down — Richard Adams

The Wind in the Willows– Kenneth Grahame

Little Women — Louisa May Alcott

Little Men — Louisa May Alcott

Jo’s Boys — Luisa May Alcott

Anne of Green Gables — L.M. Montgomery

The Secret Garden — Francis Hodgson Burnett

A Little Princess — Francis Hodgson Burnett

White Fang — Jack London

The Princess and Curdie — George MacDonald

The Lion’s Paw — Robb White

In addition, I think every person would benefit from reading a good selection of science fiction, such as Robert Heinlein’s Starman Jones and Andre Norton’s The Beast Master.

Such books are not only timeless, but good for the soul.

 

No Apologies

This past week a flurry of tweets surrounding Christians’ freedom of expression disturbed me. The debate itself has been around for the past 10-20 years or so, but never as viciously displayed as what I witnessed Friday.

Some would argue that a Christian’s choice of language is personal and no one has the “right” to “judge” them. News flash: The world will judge you even when Christians don’t. They expect Christians to be and act differently from them. Perhaps the real problem lies with our understanding of “judging” and “accountability.”

Judging is weighing someone’s actions and finding them guilty without hope of reconciliation. Guilty and punished. Accountability is showing someone the standard and how to get there. Missing the mark and correction. While Christians are warned against judging, we are commanded to reprove (hold fellow Christians accountable). The standards have already been set–we don’t get the luxury of changing them or picking and choosing which we want to follow.

But what concerns me more is the blatant lynch mob mentality that browbeats someone, who has dared to remind someone else of the standard, into submission and apology. It’s as if the more vicious we are in our response, the more we can justify a particular action by “majority rule.” In my experience, those who are the loudest and who resort to name-calling are the ones most likely to be on shaky ground. When one is standing on the rock, one can pay no attention to the tempestuous winds of words or the crushing waves of vitriol.

Meekness is not weakness, but strength under control. Christians are not doormats, except when their salt “loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.” It’s time we stood our ground against compromise and the watering down of our faith by fellow Christians.

As for the “language” issue: Here’s what the Bible actually says about it:

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8

In addition, Proverbs is filled with specific rules for what kind of things ought to come out of our mouths, if we desire to be wise.

Christian apologetics means explaining what we believe and why. It never means backing down and saying sorry because you don’t happen to agree with the standards.

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