Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Do you always learn something

There is a great American culture myth that you have to make every experience a useful experience.

I am not sure that I want to do that yet with the current illness.

It is interesting to note the "stages" I've gone thru in this illness. I've been overwhelmed by having cancer - there is something about the name cancer that makes one feel incredibly vulnerable.

Then there was a stage of being extremely confident that I would come thru this with no or little pain, discomfort, deformation, or even effort.

There was a weekend of weepy regret. While I loved having what felt like deep feelings, my sinuses didn't love the mucus and swelling the weeping brought on. And I couldn't figure out what triggered that phase. It came stayed three days, and in good Franklin style left before it began to behave like a fish.

Then I had minutes of anxiety. I actually wasn't all that scared when it came to surgery. I don't know why, but I wasn't all that afraid. When I was given the sedative that was supposed to merely relax me, I was gone. I remember getting the sedative in my iv line in the right hand. I was told that I'd see the surgeon in the hall before we went into operating room, but that would be the last thing I saw. Nope. Remember being rolled into the hall, but that's it.

Recovery has been going very swiftly and I'm incredibly optimistic. I'm feeling like the pathology report is going to come back positive - i.e., no spread of the cancer. I've got the feeling that the p.t. is going to go well, even though I had significant weakness when we removed the bandage last night.

I've been supported, prayed for, loved throughout the journey. Did that help? I suspect so, but I would hesitate to say that the cancer and its effects have been ameliorated by the support and love. But I also would hesitate to say that the support hasn't made a physical difference. That, as a religious professional, is a really interesting feeling.

I know that I'm "supposed" to support the idea, intellectually, that prayer does make a difference. Intellectually I am not convinced. Emotionally, I haven't "felt" strength coming from others. Yet, a part of me, an inward and secret part of me is beginning to awaken and say, "Oh, wait, think. All this prayer, all this love, all this support and positive vibes, they have made a difference."

But have I learned something from this?

Or is it enough that I have just experienced all this? Right now I'm opting for the latter. I just experienced all this and I am experiencing all this, and I don't have can't have any generalized knowledge that I've gained from the experience.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Between plays of the Bears/Lions game I switched over to speed channel and watched parts of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Happened to catch the awarding of the trophies.

Next to the three winners were large bottles of champagne. Wait, I thought Muslims were a teetotaling faith.

Hmmm. I guess piety takes a back seat to cultural acceptance and being able to show that you are a player in the post-modern world.

Pietism is Hard to Escape

Kris grew up in a household where Sunday card playing was frowned upon. I grew up in a household where Sunday afternoon was time to visit family (Kris too - and she keeps that by calling home every Sunday).

Not extreme examples, but both examples of the kind of Swedish pietism - and German pietism - that was part of our family's histories. We weren't part of the don't drink, smoke or chew or go with the girls that do pietists - well maybe that go with the girls part applied - but we both grew up in households where the pietist more was strong.

Sunday was a day for Church, for a big family lunch, and for not working. We did not work. Ever. I cannot remember my father ever doing a household chore on Sunday - though he did have to go to work on many Sundays (when you work swing shifts you work some Sundays).

Here I am, ready to go to the hospital for surgery on Wednesday (to KC on Tuesday for MRI and MD appointment). I had to get the front porch painted today. I painted thru the pain and got it done in about an hour's work. I had to remind myself that I was pretty much pulling my ox out of ditch on a Sunday and it was OK.

Kris has been working in the kitchen all afternoon. She's cleaned behind the stove, set the oven on self clean, the four hour cycle, and now she's cleaning the vegetable and meat drawers (and behind) in the fridge. And I have this little voice in the back of my head saying "that's not right!"

I know, I know. All days alike are days to praise God. All days alike are days when our honest labor praises our creator. Pietism was mostly a show and sometimes a fraud for most of us. Sometimes you just have to get your ox out of the ditch on the Sabbath.

But the voices in my head are sneaky, quiet, and insistent. I can't ignore them, I guess I just have to have a little chat with them - where I tell them to pipe down!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Cowboy Cheerleaders

November 7, 2011
Last Sunday I started watching an episode of "Making the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders." I was flipping through the channels, looking for something to accompany a nap, and came on this show at a moment when the casting mothers were telling the girls how hard they were going to have to work overnight if they were going to keep with the program.

Hmm, I thought, I want to see how these women respond to this demand for hard work and study overnight. I have trouble motivating my students to work hard. Maybe I can learn something.

I stuck with the story. I was impressed by the way these young women responded to the challenge. They worked hard, worked in teams, put in the time to learn a dance routine.

Then came the judging. And after: One of the young women was called into the office and questioned about "pictures." The pictures that the casting mother showed the girl were of the young woman in a bikini. While the audience wasn't shown details, the pictures didn't seem any more salacious than the uniforms the girls wear on the field, the hip gyrations or the swimsuit calendar. Look, these are sexy women (at least in a conventional sense of the term) whose sexuality is exploited by the management of the Dallas Cowboys to keep the crowd (and the viewers) viewing and spending money.

So what's the problem if one of the girls does her own salacious posing? It doesn't fit the image we're trying to maintain? Really?

What image is that? Barbie doll sexuality - look but don't touch teasing - women are objects but we own the objects and you don't? What is the image of the Dallas Cowboy cheerleader that would be sullied by one of their cheerleaders appearing naked on the internet?

I don't understand why we Americans have allowed ourselves to be bullied into the basement viz. naked human bodies. The attitude of the cheerleader leader mystifies me.