Saturday, August 30, 2014

Ominous news is ominous.

So, Ebola is in Sierra Leone. We kinda knew it was in the hinterlands of the country. It is moving into the cities. One may wonder why I, half a world a way and living in the country, am deeply concerned by this development. Ebola is a disease that I have been following for several years now. It started out as a curiosity. I confess, I am curious about plagues and the like, both in the sense of their epidemiology and their influence upon cultures. Two of my favorite books is A Journal of the Plague Year and the diary of Samuel Pepys. (If you're wondering what to buy me for my birthday or Yule, this is an excellent start of the list of books I would love to own. Perhaps I'll post that in the near future.) Another of my favorites is On the Beach, for reasons that I will tie back to plagues in a moment.

Plagues can shape humanity more surely then warfare, in my opinion. The Black Death wiped out a considerable portion of Europe's population, which laid the foundational groundwork for the destabilization of the feudal system and the eventual rise of modern Western society. The Spanish Flu was part of the factors that gave rise to what we understand now of vaccination and modern hygienic practices with respect to highly virulent pathogens. While we don't consciously think about the influence these diseases had upon history, we live with the effects daily.

With the extraordinary way diseases can spread between continents due to modern modes of travel (I'm looking right at you, air transportation.), we must now consider the threat of world wide outbreaks of diseases that were once limited to a specific geographic region. We must consider that with the larger populations subjected to the diseases in question, the disease mutates in a faster period of time then it would have in the past. Ebola is a horrific disease. It has a 50% mortality rate. While the time frame for transmission is not as long as it is for influenza, with the rise of much more rapid modes of transportation, it has the opportunity to infect a larger population and mutate faster then it would have in the smaller populations of the locales where it originated.

Now, one may ask, where that post-apocalyptic story of On the Beach fits into this picture. Consider, if you will, a world wide plague that is marching towards where you live. It is only a matter of time until it reaches you and your family. Said plague is highly likely to kill your family and yourself. How do you face the onset of illness? How do you face the potential of the death of yourself and your loved ones? On the Beach describes how the author envisioned people dealing with their own plague like event. It would seem that the author advocates one taking their life in this scenario rather then waiting for death.

I question, with the mutation of Ebola that will come with the rise of the population base of the infected, what risk is there of it becoming airborne and making transmission terrifyingly fast. Sierra Leone is on the precipice of utter chaos. Panic is rising and if containment efforts fail, as I fear they will, Sierra Leone will descend into a level of chaos that I suspect will rival Somalia at its worst.

How does this prospect have any influence over myself, one might ask?  Simple, a person can hop a plane and fly anywhere in the world. Illicit carriers will risk insane dangers if the coin paid is high enough. An infected person who is still in the latent phase could be smuggled into somewhere that the restrictions upon travel are more lax. They could, in turn, infect others who then spread the disease to an unknown number of people before it registers in the medical community of the region that this disease is present. Right now, Ebola is a disease with a very short window for transmission.

Mutations can occur that change the vectors of transmission. They can also change how long the incubation period of a viral strain is. Those two facts are what puts the proverbial fear of god into me on this disease. As the population infected rises, the number of times the disease moves from carrier to carrier increases. With each transmission of the disease, it has the prospect of mutating because DNA can not copy exactly the same 100% of the time. Large population bases of infected means the number of times the virus can mutate has increased exponentially, because the number of times the virus reproduces itself has increased by such a factor.

It is my firm belief that it is merely a matter of time until this disease develops into something even more monstrous then it is now. (I hold the same belief with diseases such as HIV as well.) So, I see the news that Ebola has moved into larger populations and I become concerned. It is very frustrating to have nothing I can actively do to prevent this disease from potentially reaching where I live. While I could live in fear, as some people in the story On the Beach did waiting for their own doomsday event, I choose not to. I conduct myself as though Ebola is not a threat to myself and my own because there is no reasonable evidence that it can reach us at this time.

I keep the words of Marcus Aurelius in mind.


As I progress forward in life, no matter how horrific the potential events seem, I choose to continue on as though there is a future. To do otherwise, is in my opinion, perhaps the ultimate form of cowardice.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

How I wish I had a garden!

From Here
I have been feeling the strongest urge to be canning and preserving food for the last few weeks. I know some of this is due to the fact that just about everything is ripe now. Some of this also comes out of the fact that for a significant portion of my youth, the end of August was the time of year that Mom and Grandma were busy canning things from the garden.

As much as I would love to stop at the Farmer's Market in Geneseo tomorrow, I really can't afford to go splurge on lots of veggies to attempt to can. Two reasons for that: a.) I don't know how to can, b.) we're a bit broke right now.

My poor flowerbed is nothing but weeds right now. I keep meaning to get out there and pull them. Then I encounter the mosquitoes of DOOM. Honestly, I am surprised they haven't manged to carry children away like some b-rated horror flick from the 1960s. The landlord is reluctant to do anything along the lines of spraying for them because the neighbor's kids basically get into everything and they're not sure if the kids would stay out of where they sprayed. The mosquitoes weren't too bad most of the season. It's been over the last few weeks that they have gotten really bad. I'm at a loss to figure out why they've suddenly become so persistent and prolific. As far as I know, there hasn't been much in the way of standing water for them to breed in.

The kids have gotten to the point where they're asking about when school is going to start. I think they're sick of vacation now. As of tomorrow, we have one week until the start of school. I'm feeling optimistic that we're going to make it. I still need to pick up some school supplies but the list is not gargantuan. I'm not entirely sure what we'll be doing as for lunches the first few days of school. I am considering packing them lunches but I worry that Snuggle Bug won't remember to bring his lunch bag home. It is something that I am probably thinking too much about right now.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Another Tuesday, DONE!

Today was exhausting. I think part of it was the heat. We had recently been experiencing cool weather so when the temperatures jumped back up to what they usually are, it felt oppressive. I honestly am dreading when the more humid weather moves in over the next few days. I am anticipating the kids being extra whiny over the least thing.

The morning was fairly calm. I will admit it, I did go so far as to put on Fireman Sam videos so that the kids would leave me alone for a little while. I was having some difficulty waking up this morning. It didn't help very much that Snuggle Bug was up early today. Somehow, I went from awake and blearily watching the kids watch videos on Youtube to asleep on the couch. When I woke up, they were still sitting there watching Fireman Sam. The only difference was that they had acquired firetrucks to hold in their laps while they were sitting there.

We spent a good portion of the afternoon at Vitale Park, just down the road from us. Cuddle Bear made a new friend at the park. He had lots of fun playing with a little girl named Shelby. Apparently she goes to school at Livonia as well, so Cuddle Bear may be seeing her at school too. Cuddle Bear attempted to climb trees with the older children. This resulted in him hanging off of the lower branches, with the older kids trying to help him at times.

Snuggle Bug was having fun walking up to random children and talking to them. He spent a good deal of time at the sandbox and chatted up a few parents as well. The boys were pretty good about things when it was time to head home. As per what has become the norm, we had to stop to visit with the staff at Smith Lumber before we went home. I have to say, the folks there are really awesome about it. If they're not busy, they chat with the boys a bit and almost always have lollipops for the kids. They get a big kick out of watching the boys talk to and about the weed wackers that are on display right now. (Honestly, if you're local and considering where to go for your hardware needs, these guys are great. Their customer service is awesome and they're really helpful. Also, if they don't have it in stock, they will find it for you or find who has it.)

Dinner tonight, I had expected, was not going to be a big deal. The boys hadn't seemed very hungry. Apparently, they have decided that they love the Lasagna Hamburger Helper. Cuddle Bear asked me to save his leftovers so he could have them for lunch tomorrow, and this was after he had one and a half plates worth of it. Snuggle Bug seemed to really enjoy it too. I guess I am going to add that to my list of weekday meals for the kids.

In going through my pantry to select what I was going to make tonight, I discovered that I had a jar of pickled beets. I will shamelessly admit, I was snacking on pickled beets as I was cooking dinner. I forgot how much I have come to enjoy them until I had a few. Then I had to put the jar away so that I didn't eat that instead of dinner. I am seriously thinking about getting a few beets and making lacto-fermented  pickles with 'em. I have been looking at some interesting sauerkraut recipes and found a few that actually included beets. I think that I will be picking up cabbage and beets on my next grocery run.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Getting ready for Spinning!

From Here
This weekend, I go to the spinning guild meeting with my MiL. I will be bringing some fiber I dyed, two pairs of socks I made, and a shawl that I made. I'm probably going to wear one of my knitted kerchiefs because I expect it to still be cool tomorrow. I'm torn between the one made from my MiL's handspun and the one that is made from my handspun plyed with commercial cotton. The deciding factor on that one is what the weather report is supposed to be like for tomorrow.

I will probably bring a new spinning project with me. I wound the alpaca off my zebra wood bottom whorl spindle onto my niddy-noddy. Considering the stuff, I don't think I am going to ply it with anything. Instead, I will just wet it and set the twist. After that I'll wind the hank into a ball and then knit something with it. I'm thinking about trying my hand out on a lace sampler that is also a scarf. My knitting book has several simple lace patterns that I think I can do.

I have a lot of silk waiting to be spun. While I am making yards upon yards with the light weight turkish spindle I fashioned, I think I'm going to switch to using one of my larger spindles so that I can use up the fiber faster. I don't know what I am going to do with that ball of ultra fine thread. It is literally a few hairs in thickness. I may knit up something with it. Or I might crochet something, either way, I am going to make something with this terribly fine weight stuff.

I am a bit stalled on the Lady of the Forest shawl right now. I am a third of the way through making the back. I confess, I am a bit bored with the project. I feel, however, that I have enough work into it now that I am committed to it. I don't know if this camo colorway was such a good idea. The way the color pooling is working up in this yarn is not exactly appealing to me. I hope that Ms. Presson's choice of yarn is a bit lighter in shade then what I am working on.

I have been compiling a list of projects that I must complete by Yule. Among my list are things like:
  • Blanket for Bridget
  • Messenger bag for Alexis
  • Doll for Sadie
  • Slippers for Snuggle Bug (he out grew the ones I made for him last year.)
  • Dolphin for Kendall
  • Slippers for myself
I am at a loss for what to do for Beloved and my tenth wedding anniversary. I have been struggling with some kind of idea for months now and I just can't think of anything. I want to do something special but I keep drawing a blank. I need to ask around to see if anyone would be available to watch the boys for us on the Saturday following this way Beloved and I can do something like go out to lunch.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Brain fried before Noon.

I have been just exhausted the last few days. It hasn't been because of a whole ton of work; though I have been getting a lot done. Mainly, I'm still in the adjustment phase of a new medication regime. Despite feeling so awfully tired, I am feeling much more like myself. I think, once I have adjusted, I will be doing a great deal better.

I sat down yesterday and made my shopping list for school supplies. Honestly, I feel a bit silly writing down 16 glue sticks but then I recall that we did use a lot of glue when I was in school as a kid. Some of this stuff, I know I'll be able to pick up at the dollar store. Things like composition notebooks and folders are going to be relatively cheap. I even think I'll be able to score some pencils for dirt cheap as well. I'll have to sharpen them myself, but that is what a pencil sharpener is for.

The gifts of clothing has made a significant dent in what we will need to buy the boys for school. Poor little Cuddle Bear wore a hole clean through his shoes and I didn't realize it until Tuesday. To say the least, when I ran out to the store to pick up a few things, I grabbed him a new pair of shoes. He was thrilled to start wearing them yesterday. I think the thing he was most pleased with was the fact that they were in the same colors as Batman. Snuggle Bug's shoes are just about worn out too. I think I will be getting him new shoes next week. If I'm lucky, I may be able to find some that are similar to Cuddle Bear's but colored like Superman's theme.

I have begun the process of looking through what all I have made thus far to determine what I have left to work on for Yule. I have to say, I am pleased with how the two bottles of vanilla perfume came out. I still have a lot of vanilla scented vodka that I think I will be packaging up into a pretty bottle and giving as a gift. I have started infusing some lavender into the last of the vodka. I am not entirely sure what I will do with it when it is finished. Perhaps I will use it as the base of another perfume.

I am feeling the powerful urge to start preserving food. Unfortunately, I don't have any gardening done so I have no produce to put by. I may, however, pick up a bag of strawberries and make some freezer jam. I may also pick up some fresh veggies at the Farmer's Market next week to make some homemade pickles. My last attempt came out poorly. I have a new recipe to try. It seems to be well suited to small batches. I am optimistic that this will work out better this time.

Monday, August 11, 2014

G'bye Monday!

Today was a long day. I had a lot of things I wanted to get done but I didn't quite accomplish it. Now I'm here torn between my better judgment telling me I should be getting ready for bed and the desire to be up and getting things done. If nothing else, I can make a quick post here and update on how the party went yesterday.

It was, in short, a success. The boys had tons of fun with their cousins (though not all of them were able to be there). The adults had a good time visiting with each other. The food was plentiful and easy to clean up after. All that Beloved's parents had to do was smile and watch the children play.

I think, however, that the next birthday party I plan, I'm going to let other people help more. My nerves were pretty well shot by the end of the day. I was honestly glad when Beloved was managing the kids when we got home. I was able to have a little 'me time' and do some reading. It helped me de-stress from things considerably.

You may be wondering what I am reading these days. It's been a while since I updated my reading blog. It's not that I haven't read anything since January. It is more like I haven't been writing about what I have been reading. I am going to rectify that by writing little blurbs about books as I finish them. In the course of my travels tomorrow, I am going to write a little something about the two Harry Dresden books I finished in the last week. I've been juggling three different book series right now and reading random stuff on the side.

I have been reading the Dark Tower series, Harry Potter, and the Dresden Files books. When I'm not reading that stuff, I've been reading religious oriented texts, stuff about parenting autistic children, and being a homemaker. The last two subjects have been proving rather... disappointing. I'm finding that there is better material on the blogs I follow compared to the books I have been getting out via the library.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Cheesecake ice cream!

I generally enjoy the stuff from Ben & Jerry's and I usually grab their Chocolate Therapy when I'm in a bit of a funk. Today, the grocery store was out of Chocolate Therapy, so I picked up their Cheesecake Brownie variety. Holy cats! I didn't know ice cream could be *this* good. It is almost better then the Talenti stuff. It's like having cheesecake but with the creamy consistency of ice cream. I love cheesecake. I think the only way this could be better is if it had strawberries on it.

I shared a spoonful with Beloved, who then did what the kids do when they like something: opened his mouth up for more. I giggled and rewarded his silliness with another spoonful. He said something a few minutes ago about how the ice cream wasn't going to last long. I think I need to buy him his own pint so that he doesn't eat mine on me. I just accepted destiny and handed him the pint. He's been busy minding the kids all day, he really deserves a reward for handling several meltdowns in a row this evening.

When I did my grocery shopping, I picked up food for the party tomorrow. I also picked up the cupcakes. They looked pretty good, though I suspect that the cupcakes with the orange frosting would fluoresce under a black light. I am a bit concerned that I bought too much food. No one really got back a hold of me as to if they were coming or not. I decided to err on the side of caution and purchased like everyone is coming.

My household: 4
In laws: 2
Sis in law: 1
Bro in law's family: 6 (or 4 depending on if they have all 4 girls this weekend)
Friend's family: 4
Niece & one: 2
Other Sis in law's family: 5

I know now that my niece and my other sis in law won't be making it. So instead of having a total of 20 people, we're looking at something closer to 15 people. I planned for 20 in my shopping. What we don't eat at the party, I think, will keep reasonably well for us to have during the week. I bought enough cupcakes so that people can have two if they want them. The cupcakes from the store were a bit smaller then what I would have made here at home, so I went with a double batch from the store.

I still need to package presents. I thought about getting a shower before I head to bed tonight. Honestly, however, I'm just so worn out that the idea of going through the effort makes me tired. 

Friday, August 08, 2014

28 Days and Counting

Twenty eight days from today, school starts. Like my friend Lily, I am counting down the days. We have one more week of pre-school before a break of two weeks. Honestly, I can't foresee Snuggle Bug potty training in that time frame. I may be wrong. He may surprise me. I am not going to hang any great expectations on this, however.

Next week, we have the boys' birthday party on Sunday. I have things situated so that all that we really need to do now is pick up food. I don't know why I am getting this terrible feeling of dread about it all right now. It could be partly due to the fact that I have been struggling with depression for a little while now and it makes everything look significantly more grim than it really is. It could also be the fact that I am just not comfortable with parties.

I think it is partly a function of my social phobia. And I think it is partly a function of the fact that I am an introvert. Beloved is also an introvert. The boys, however, are more of a pair of extroverts then we are. Especially Snuggle Bug, who decided to walk into somebody's house while we were visiting his friends and say hi. At least the boy knocked first and listened when the gal living there said they were busy and he couldn't visit.

It is less then a month away from Beloved and my 10 year wedding anniversary. I feel terrible to say that I have no ideas what to do for him to make the day special. It falls in the middle of the work week. It is also the day that school starts up for Snuggle Bug (who, if I recall it rightly, has a half day that day). We're not exactly flush with cash right now. I don't think we're going to be able to really do anything until the weekend and even then I don't honestly know what we could do.

We might get lucky and someone will be able to watch the boys for us so that we can go out to dinner. It seems, however, that babysitting time is harder to come by right now. My emo-tastic brain tells me that it is because the boys (namely Snuggle Bug) are difficult to manage for a length of time and that people only want to deal with the kids in small doses. I think it is more likely that people are busy and simply don't have the time. And, in all honesty, the boys are a handful.

Depression does funny things to how you perceive things and usually it makes you see the worst about a situation, at best. I've been trying not to let my mental health woes color this blog but that has resulted in my avoiding posting in here. I've decided to throw caution to the wind, to some extent, and let myself post on here even when I am not feeling up to it. Not everyday is happy and perfect and it is better that this blog reflects reality rather then some inflated image.

I started this blog post with the goal of talking about the planning for this birthday party. I'm most of the way there on getting things situated. The theme of the party is superheros. I thought briefly about getting stuff with a superhero theme, like a banner or a table cloth or something. Then I saw the cost of it and concluded that I couldn't pay for something that was 4 times the cost of what I could spend on plain items when the kids weren't really going to get all excited over it. It'd be one thing if we were going with a theme like firefighters, which the boys both get really excited about it.

Superheros are something that the boys sort of like but their cousins would be more inclined to get into the fun on it. If the boys are still hot on the concept of firefighters (see what I did right there?) in a few years, then perhaps we'll do a firefighter themed party for them. If we save our pennies, we could possibly manage to hold the party at the training grounds up the road and have the firefighters show off one of their trucks.

The menu is really simple. We're having hot dogs, two different kinds of salad, chips, pretzels, and soda. For dessert, we're having cupcakes. I was going to have them do all Spiderman, Batman, or Iron Man for the cupcakes but they didn't have enough of those plastic rings to go with it all. As a result, we are going to have half the cupcakes with Batman rings and half the cupcakes with Ninja Turtles rings. Again, I don't think the kids are going to care terribly much.

The boys are getting a few different toys from us. I got them each a Transformer robot that is about 8 in tall with fixed limbs. I also located for them monster truck versions of a garbage truck (for Cuddle Bear) and an ambulance (for Snuggle Bug). I purchased a bike helmet for Snuggle Bug. When I am getting groceries tomorrow, I will be getting a bell for the bike that Cuddle Bear will be getting from his grandparents. I was thinking a bell was a better option then a horn. Cuddle Bear does not like loud noises and bike horns are generally pretty loud.

I am not doing stuff like streamers or fancy tablecloths or anything. I looked at the cost of that stuff and decided that I just couldn't justify it out of the budget. Next year is an 'off' year for birthday parties. If I save things up over next year and the summer after, I should have enough put by for the kids to have a themed birthday party that they'll be more likely to remember. Then, if they're still into firefighters, we can do a firetruck themed cake and stuff. Who knows, maybe I'll be able to swing getting fire helmets for the kids and stuff.

In the meantime, I need to start planning for back to school stuff. The school supply lists arrived in the mail this week. I think we'll be picking up what is needed week after next. Then we can do all of the shopping at once. I know that we'll need to get the boys new shoes, socks, and underwear. I'm pretty sure that Cuddle Bear is going to need some new pants too. The ones he has are starting to get a bit small in the leg. I figure if I buy them a bit long in the leg, I can hem them and let the hems out as he grows.

It looks like Snuggle Bug's backpack from Headstart is still solid enough to stand up to kindergarten. Cuddle Bear's backpack from last year, however, is not so fortunate. This time, we will be getting him a larger backpack. The one he had last year was a touch too small for what he needed. I'm going to have the kids packing lunch as often as we can manage, though we are applying to see if we qualify for reduced lunch again this year. I already have a bag for each of the kids.

While I like the idea of bento boxes, I recognize that I may not have the stamina for whipping up fancy bento lunches on a regular basis. I think, however, with some planning and preparation, I can have some plain bento lunches for them to bring regularly. Speaking of bento boxes, I really hope that Beloved can find his lunch box at work so I can clean it up and stuff. My thought is while I am cooking up dinner in the evening, I will just make their lunches and put them in the fridge.

If I can streamline my work, then maybe, just maybe, I can pack lunches more often then it would be necessary for the kids to buy. And if I do it right, it won't be terribly, terribly expensive either. If you follow my pinterest boards, you may find me posting more things about bento lunches in the not so distant future. Don't be surprised if themes around different foods arise. Cuddle Bear's favorite lunch is pizza sandwiches and Snuggle Bug loves his peanut butter and jelly. Since I haven't gotten a notice home saying that peanut butter anything is not allowed at school, I'm going to assume that it is safe to send him in with those.

I remember seeing something about freezing sandwiches after you made them ahead to make them last longer during the week. Perhaps I will give that a try too. Who knows. I think I've run out of things to say. I guess I'll end this post before I blather on about something that is complete nonsense.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Open Letter to Mr. Steve Finnell

On a few different occasions, Mr. Finnell has responded to my posts with an eager effort to promote his faith. I am not opposed to such things, however, I did not publish his replies due to the fact they were entirely tangential (at best) to the subject matter of my posts. Out of respect for Mr. Finnell's apparently earnest desire for dialogue, I am taking the time to direct a post to him. I ask that Mr. Finnell, upon reading this post, please do me the kindness of responding in the comments.

His desire for discussion upon this topic seems sincere but he seems hesitant to engage it upon my other blogs. Thus, I am breaking from my usual posting habits to touch upon this subject in this blog as a gesture of kindness and respect for his apparent discomfort to approach me elsewhere. I welcome others who would wish to join this discussion to do so in the comments as well. While this is my blog, I recognize that I am part of a larger community and that this is the digital equivalent of sitting on the front porch and talking with the neighbors.

All I ask, and I state this only for the sake of clarity, is that the discussion be conducted in a respectful tone. I give my most solemn word that I will treat all comers to this discussion with hospitality and kindness. However, if someone chooses to be offensive in their treatment of myself or others who are engaged in this discussion, I will not post their reply. I know that common courtesy is something of a rarity on the internet and it saddens me that I felt it necessary to make the aforementioned statement. That, however, is something for a different post.

In his most recent reply to one of my posts, Mr. Finnell posted the following:

IS GOD'S GRACE IRRESISTIBLE? BY STEVE FINNELL The doctrine of irresistible grace, that was promoted by John Calvin, teaches that God's grace is applied only to those to whom He has determined to save, overcoming their resistance to obeying the call of the gospel, imputing them with faith in Christ so that they might become saved. God's grace is available to all who hear the gospel. Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. God's grace is available to all men, however, most men reject the salvation offered by God. Men have a choice, grace is not irresistible. Matthew 7:13-14 "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Men can and do resist the Holy Spirit. Acts 7:51 "You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy
I realize that one might feel somewhat constrained by the format of posting replies here on Blogger. I question, however, why Mr. Finnell felt it necessary to post his reply with such dense text. A few line breaks would have made it much easier to read. I ask that in future posting, that Mr. Finnell use line breaks to delineate the difference between the Bible passages he is quoting and his personal sentiments. The format that he has used thus far is very difficult to read, from a technical standpoint. It fatigues the eye and makes it confusing.

Also, ending with a dangling participle is simply bad form, Mr. Finnell. Please, refrain from doing so. If one must end a statement before completing a quote, it is accepted practice to use an ellipsis. If you are not familiar with an ellipsis, it is formed thusly: [...]. I recognize that my arguments thus far are fare more ... peevish and narrow then what one might expect at the outset of this discussion. I confess, I have times where I have played fast and loose with the rules of written communication myself.

It seems, however, that more casual attention to written communication denotes more casual concern with the subject matter. If I am not mistaken, Mr. Finnell, you consider the subject you are attempting to engage me in to be one of great importance. Additionally, it seems to me that the holy book which you are referencing would be one that you hold in high regard and would expend the extra effort to make sure that you are clearly expressing your quotations with the level of gravitas that is merited by the subject matter and source material.

Please, Mr. Finnell, in your responses to me upon this subject, take the time to make your responses easily readable. It makes it not only easier for me to understand what you are communicating but makes me more inclined to engage you upon the subject. I prefer to discuss topics of religion with individuals who are educated to a moderate extent because I come away from the conversation having learned something. It is my hope that this discussion will prove profitable to both of us and the only way that we can begin to approach this is with a clearly defined framework for communication.

Now, I express some disappointment, Mr. Finnell, that you did not identify which version of the Bible you are referencing here. There are subtle but meaningful differences in the language used in the different versions of the Bible that are on the market. I did take a moment to review a few posts on your blog. It seems that you are using the New King James Version. I do now own this version, however, I have an Authorized King James Version. I hope that the differences in the material are not so great as to hinder discussion. I ask, however, that in the future, when you are using quotations, that you note which version of the Bible you are using. I do not know if you, like myself, own multiple versions of this holy book. I would like to be able to reference the same material as you are so that I might be able to understand the quotation in its full context.

I find it curious that you open your post with a declaration. I can not tell if this declaration is from yourself or the esteemed John Calvin. (John Calvin was a very wise man who did a great deal of work to encourage the Protestant reformation and I respect his efforts highly. I would assume from your referencing of him that you are of the Calvinist denomination. If I am incorrect in this assumption, please be so kind as to share what denomination you follow. I am most curious, however, I digress. You open with the following declaration:

The doctrine of irresistible grace, that was promoted by John Calvin, teaches that God's grace is applied only to those to whom He has determined to save, overcoming their resistance to obeying the call of the gospel, imputing them with faith in Christ so that they might become saved. God's grace is available to all who hear the gospel.
If irresistible grace is applied to those whom your God has decided to save, would it not happen that I would be aware of this grace? Would it not have refashioned my beliefs or otherwise reshaped the structure of my life whereby accepting the 'call of the gospel' becomes the only logical path in my life? Additionally, Mr. Finnell, what exactly would your God be saving me from?

It is the belief of your sect that all of humanity is depraved and incapable of ethical behavior with out the intervention of your God. I question how it is that you feel so empowered to make such judgments about myself. Does not the very Bible you have quoted admonish believers to remember that such judgments are the purview of God alone? The sermon upon the Mount of Olives is a very clear lesson upon this matter. It would be the very height of hubris to make such judgments and act upon them.

Your aggressive insistence that I pay court to your efforts to proselytize to me would lead me to infer that you believe that I am amongst the worst wicked and that my salvation must be accomplished by way of your efforts in addition to those of your God. For, indeed, such aggressive efforts to persuade me away from my path bespeaks a lack of faith that your God is sufficient to change my heart upon his own efforts. Is your God omnipotent or not? If your God is omnipotent, then you have no work to do.

Indeed, if your God is omnipotent and desires me to change my ways, he would know the best way to persuade me. It would happen in a manner that I would have no choice but either accept or reject because I would see quite clearly the logical choice in the matter. There would be no fuzzy arguments about ethics, the qualities of God, or what humanity's proper relationship with God, itself, and the world should be.

Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. God's grace is available to all men, however, most men reject the salvation offered by God. Men have a choice, grace is not irresistible.
The quote above leads me to question, Mr. Finnell, if humanity has a choice to reject your God, what power does your God have? How exactly can your God save me if his will is undone by a person merely saying 'no'? I have been beset by great harm and difficulty in my 35 years upon Earth. In those times of difficulty, why did your God not stretch forth his hand and shelter me from the evil that was visited upon me? It would have won him a steadfast and unshakeable convert, I assure you. Yet, your God did no such thing, for myself or many others whom have been or are currently in such a position.

Why does your God rely upon such weak vessels as human action if he truly seeks to save the world? Could it be that those of us who have not been favored by such a kindly glance from your God are not amongst the chosen? I ask, could it be that I was destined for my heathen ways? And, if this was the case, would it not be arrogance and foolishness to attempt to persuade me to take a different path? Would this not be another manifestation of a failure to have complete faith in your God, whom your faith teaches is omnipresent, omnipotent, and all knowing?

Indeed, Mr. Finnell, is it not possible that I, a mere housewife, am placed here to serve as a mirror whereby you might examine your own faith and your efforts to convert me are you moving against the plan of your God? For, if your God has shaped all things and knows the hearts of all humanity, then I am precisely as your God has formed me and I fulfill the role that he has placed me in simply as I am. All life experiences and genetic programming that has lead me to this precise moment in time happened in accordance with your God's will, according to most Christian thought, and I am as I should be with out any action upon your part. It would be a dangerous act of will for one to oppose an omnipotent, omnipresent, all knowing being.

You would have my believe that your presence, as persistent as it is, is a manifestation of that super abundant grace and that your efforts to convert me are endorsed by this. I question, is it your God's will that you are engaged in or your own? You would be quick to declare me amongst the proud and wicked, Mr. Finnell, but what evidence have you that I am so? How is a peaceable person who deals fairly with others and abides by the laws of the land amongst the wicked? How is a person who is more concerned with the good of others then that of themselves amongst the wicked?

I practice my faith quietly. I do good work in my community where I can. I am raising my boys to be good men who respect and honor other people. I do not harm others. I even work to be ecologically sound in my work around the house and in my purchasing efforts, thereby acting as a good steward of the land for the generations that follow me. Please, I ask you, show me what evil these actions have caused? How does this place me amongst the people who are in need of salvation?

Furthermore, what exactly would I be being saved from? What of the people who died unaware of the gospel, Mr. Finnell? The unbaptized and ignorant of your faith, are they condemned as well by their accident of birth? Ah, wait, I forget, Mr. Finnell, a central tenet of your sect of Christianity is that all of humanity is depraved. Thus the infant child is somehow equally as much of an affront to the eyes of your God as he who murders and commits acts of rape. Explain to me, please Mr. Finnell, how that works. The infant child is not yet capable of moral reasoning. They act out of ignorance, in their limited capacity for action, and are not yet experienced enough to conceptualize abstract concepts like malice. The murderer has their faculties and the ability to act as a moral agent. They can consciously choose how to proceed and engage in actions deliberately, even when they choose not to consider those actions fully.

You would have me embrace your faith on the basis of a few quotes. Within those quotes are a thinly veiled threat of punishment if I do not make the 'right' choice and an insult against my person. If such tactics were undertaken at any other juncture, what ever decision I made would be under duress and not of my own free will, if I had felt sufficiently threatened by the threat of punishment. If I were to choose conversion under those circumstances, I did not choose it of my own free will but to avoid punishment. As such, by being forced into such a choice, I didn't make a choice but rather complied with those who were forcing me into the situation out of a sense of self preservation, much like a man who is being robbed at gunpoint would hand over his wallet rather then being shot. The man does not know if the gun is loaded and is forced to operate on the assumption that it is and complies for the sake of his well being.

You, Mr. Finnell, have placed me in this position. Your God seeks a conversion via free will. Your efforts, however, have placed me in a position where said conversion would not be of my free will. Thus, you are undermining God and engaging in a dangerous game, sir. And all of this is with out any consideration for the question of the existence of other Gods and the possible role they play in this scenario.

I ask you, sir, why do you threaten as part of your efforts to convert? The gospel is supposed to be about good news (as that is the root of the term gospel even) and making the world aware of God's love of humanity. One does not persuade a person with threats. That is terrorizing them. Indeed, one could argue that it is psychological and emotional blackmail to do so. I am made of sterner stuff and do not take kindly to such efforts. I will, however, overlook your thinly veiled threats if you would engaged me by way of reason. Persuade me, Mr. Finnell. Tell me what good your God has done for you and the world. Explain to me why your God would permit the evils that happened to me and turned a deaf ear when I appealed for aid.

It was not your God that delivered me from evil, by the way. It was my Gods that helped me to endure it and defend myself from it when it came again in my life. I place low value upon a 'savior' who refuses to rescue a child from a dangerous situation.