What's davintosh? Mostly just the random ramblings of a hopelessly distractible… Hey, what's that?

Listen, Smith Of The Heavens

Filed under: Faith & Worship,Fun! — dave @ 11:04 pm 2013/10/16

Can’t say I’ve ever heard Icelandic folk music before, but after hearing this beautiful song, sung a cappella (by the group Arstidir) in a cavernous subway in Germany, I think I’m hooked. Now I just need to learn a little Icelandic.

The song in the video is “Heyr Himna Smiður”. It was originally written as a poem by Kolbeinn Tumason in 1208, while on his deathbed (the story of his death is sad and tragic.) The melody that accompanies the text was written by Þorkell Sigurbjörnsson, over 700 years later. With a hat tip to the contributors at Wikipedia, “the original text is presented here with 19th-century Icelandic spelling and a rough, literal translation into English.” The translation is a beautiful psalm to the Lord God; it could’ve been penned by King David himself. But I have no doubt the poem is even more lyrical when spoken in the original language.

Heyr, himna smiður,
hvers skáldið biður.
Komi mjúk til mín
miskunnin þín.
Því heit eg á þig,
þú hefur skaptan mig.
Eg er þrællinn þinn,
þú ert drottinn minn.

Guð, heit eg á þig,
að þú græðir mig.
Minnst þú, mildingur, mín,
mest þurfum þín.
Ryð þú, röðla gramur,
ríklyndur og framur,
hölds hverri sorg
úr hjartaborg.

Gæt þú, mildingur, mín,
mest þurfum þín,
helzt hverja stund
á hölda grund.
Send þú, meyjar mögur,
málsefnin fögur,
öll er hjálp af þér,
í hjarta mér.

Listen, smith of the heavens,
what the poet asks.
May softly come unto me
thy mercy.
So I call on thee,
for thou hast created me.
I am thy slave,
thou art my Lord.

God, I call on thee
to heal me.
Remember me, mild one,*
Most we need thee.
Drive out, O king of suns,
generous and great,
every human sorrow
from the city of the heart.

Watch over me, mild one,
Most we need thee,
truly every moment
in the world of men.
send us, son of the virgin,
good causes,
all aid is from thee,
in my heart.

* or mild king. This is a pun on the word mildingur.

Godspeed, Ken

Filed under: Faith & Worship,Medical Adventures — dave @ 5:37 pm 2013/07/12

A good friend — Ken — found an end to his earthly suffering today, losing his battle with mesothelioma.

I’ve known members of Ken’s family much longer than I’ve known him, so it feels like I’ve known him forever. In reality though it’s only been about 15 years or so. Ken is a few years my senior, and has been retired longer than we’ve been acquainted. He’s not exactly an official mentor, but he has mentored me on many levels, usually unintentionally. Such a great guy; quiet, humble, honest… Seems like they don’t make men like anymore, or at least not as often.

Ken’s mesothelioma diagnosis came long before I was diagnosed with DLBCL, but we somehow ended up on the same rotation for chemotherapy; I counted him as my chemo-buddy. Mesothelioma is a much different and more aggressive cancer than DLBCL, and his fight was simply for a little more time; there is no cure, and the chemo only slowed its advance until it outsmarted the drugs. He had explored lots of treatment options in the last few months at Sanford Cancer Center and at Mayo Clinic, but the doctors said there was little more they could do for him and he wouldn’t likely see Christmas. I really hate it when they are that right.

The last time I saw Ken was two weeks ago this Sunday; Ken was admitted to the hospital a week earlier, and Yvonne and I stopped to visit, staying much longer than we had intended. I’m glad we had that time with him. Ken looked good that day, alert but a bit sleepy from the drugs helping to control his pain. The cancer had spread to his abdomen and had formed several tumors which were collecting fluid and causing a lot of pain. He and Harriet were so grateful for and hospitable to every visitor; the embodiment of graciousness. The strange thing was that only three weeks earlier at our last chemo session he looked great and was in no pain at all. That was five weeks ago, and today he’s gone. I just can’t wrap my head around that.

But Ken was well grounded in his faith in Jesus Christ, and there’s no doubt he’s in a better place now, free of pain and worshiping at the Throne. It’s hard though, knowing I won’t see him again, and knowing how difficult this will be for his family. Still, I envy him just a little… But I know it’s not my turn yet; God still has a job for me here, so I wait patiently for him to call me home, and try to become what he wants me to be.

And the saga continues… *

Filed under: Faith & Worship,Just Stuff,Medical Adventures — Tags: , , , , , — dave @ 9:35 pm 2013/03/19

Today was the day for my appointment with the oral surgeon, and we’re finally getting some answers, if not some relief. Initially they did a panoramic x-ray, but that didn’t show much of anything, so Dr. Miller ordered a 3D CT image. After having a look at that and a peek inside my mouth, he told us that what I had was likely a brown tumor;

The brown tumor is a bone lesion that arises in settings of excess osteoclast activity, such as hyperparathyroidism. It is not a true neoplasm, as the term “tumor” suggests; however, it may mimic a true neoplasm.

Pathology
Brown tumours consist of fibrous tissue, woven bone and supporting vasculature, but no matrix. The osteoclasts consume the trabecular bone that osteoblasts lay down and this front of reparative bone deposition followed by additional resorption can expand beyond the usual shape of the bone, involving the periosteum thus causing bone pain. The characteristic brown coloration results from hemosiderin deposition into the osteolytic cysts. Hemosiderin deposition is not a distinctive feature of brown tumors; it may also be seen giant cell tumors of the bone.

Well, the pathology sure seems to fit my situation; the front of reparative bone deposition has been expanding the bone around those teeth enough to shove the teeth around to where they should not be, and making life miserable for me. The doc is reasonably sure that’s the deal, but only a biopsy will tell for sure, and that’s scheduled for next Monday. And the great part of the biopsy is that they’ll remove the tumor/lesion/whatever it is, but I’ll probably lose a couple of teeth in the process. Great. And I don’t even get to keep them, which is really too bad because I’ll probably need to get dental implants later on, and it would just make so much sense to use them for the implants… The assistant told me they are considered a biohazard, so they go to the incinerator. Too bad.

When the tumor is removed, there will likely be a sizable gap left behind; a variety of materials will be used to fill it in, and with time the other teeth ought to migrate back to their original positions. Eating will be easier, but not back to normal because of the missing teeth; later, after things heal up, and I can afford it, the option of implant-supported crowns is there. And I’ll look a bit trailer-park-ish with the missing teeth, but the fact that it’s most likely non-cancerous is enough to make me very, very thankful. I can live with trailer-park-ish; radiation & chemo therapy… I’ll pass, thanks.

Now I just need to figure out how to make it through the next few days and nights; eating will still be a challenge, but oatmeal and other soft foods aren’t all bad. The surest path to a good night’s sleep that I’ve found is two Vicoden, two ibuprofen, and my SleepRight Dental Guard. My mouth still hurts like crazy when I wake up, but things look so much better after a good restful night. Knowing that it’s not cancer, and knowing there is light at the end of the tunnel is huge. After last Thursday I was praying & hoping for the best, but bracing for the worst. I know God is good — all the time — and he will see me through whatever comes, but I still worried about my ability to cope. This won’t be an easy path, but I have some hope.

* A continuation of this post and this one.

Heavenly Envy

Filed under: Faith & Worship,Personal Growth,The Deep — dave @ 11:52 pm 2012/02/28

I went to a funeral for friend this afternoon. He died at age 55. A month or so ago I attended the funeral for a guy I hung out with in high school; he died at 50. I still feel like I’m too young to be burying people that are close to my own age, but I guess it’s a natural part of life. Our bodies aren’t meant to last forever, at least not our earthly bodies. Our heavenly bodies… Now that’s another story altogether.

I don’t know when it started, and I don’t know if I’m the only one with this problem, but at funerals I often catch myself being slightly envious of the one who has passed away… That should probably be qualified a bit more; envious of fellow Christians who have passed away. Envious because I know (if only just a little) the glory they enjoy after leaving this life behind. Meanwhile I’m still stuck in this aging old tent. Our bodies, like tents, aren’t made to last for ever nor for long-term habitation. Try as I might, mine will only last another 40 years or so longer, tops (probably less.) But I have consolation that as this body moves toward its end, a new life is developing that will one day be fully realized in the presence of my Lord:

So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Although I am admittedly anxious to get to that celebration, I have no intention of hastening my date with eternity. I am content with God’s plan for my life, whether His exit plan for me involves a fatal run-in with a cement truck tomorrow, or a long convalescence through my 70′s or 80′s or 90′s… I’ll live the rest of my days in gratitude for the blessings He’s sent my way, especially for the loving wife and great kids that I so don’t deserve.

But still there’s that, something… that envy that makes me long for the things to come. It’s a hope for things to come; not a hope, as in “I hope it will happen”, but a hope as in something that is sure, yet is just out of reach and will arrive at a time I don’t know. As C.S. Lewis so aptly put it,

We cannot tell each other about it. It is the secret signature of each soul, the incommunicable and unappeasable want, the thing we wanted before we met our wives or made our friends or chose our work, and which we shall still desire on our deathbeds, when the mind no longer knows wife or friend or work. While we are, this is. If we lose this, we lose all.

That’s right; while I am, this — that built-in longing for what has been promised and will be — just is. I can’t wait for Heaven, but I will.

Kyle – age 13

Filed under: Faith & Worship — dave @ 10:50 pm 2011/09/25

This last summer, the adult fellowship/Sunday school class we attend went through The Truth Project, which is a 13 lesson, DVD-based program taught by Dr. Del Tackett that helps to equip believers with a comprehensive biblical worldview.

The Truth Project is a great program, but one of the really striking things is the kid that’s featured in many of the interviews in the program, identified only as “Kyle, age 13.” Kyle has some funny affectations in his speech, but what stands out is his answers to the questions; he seems wise beyond his years, giving answers that would be more likely to come from a college professor than a 13 year old kid.

Turns out that Kyle is actually Kyle West, a kid with cerebral palsey, has some special giftedness, and has been used by God to teach so-called normal people some things about our worth in the sight of God that should be evident, but are often missed. Here are a few videos produced by CrossExamine.com that feature Kyle and his story; a very amazing story.

And Though This World With Devils Filled Should Threaten To Undo Us…

Filed under: Faith & Worship,Favorite Things — Tags: , — dave @ 10:39 pm 2010/10/31

Today is Reformation Day, the day we celebrate Martin Luther’s nailing his 95 theses to the door of the palace church in Wittenberg, Germany. It was done on this date in 1517. He didn’t intend to spark a reformation of the church, only to address some serious wrongs in the Roman Catholic church of his day. But as a former Roman Catholic who has become a born again believer, I’m grateful that Luther did spark that revolution.

It seems to me ironic and interesting that Halloween & Reformation Day are celebrated on the same day. Halloween has in recent times morphed into a celebration of the occult, witchcraft and all that is dark. Reformation Day celebrates the courageous action of Martin Luther, one who is said to have battled demons throughout his life, and the author of one of my favorite hymnsA Mighty Fortress Is Our God.
(more…)

The Skeleton At The Feast

Filed under: Faith & Worship,Personal Growth,The Deep — dave @ 3:55 pm 2010/06/19

Of the Seven Deadly Sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back—in many ways it is a feast fit for a king.

The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.

Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC

So very true. I see many people who harbor huge grudges against others, and those grudges only harm the one who carry them. And I do the same. I’ve been dealing with some bitterness lately, but I’m the one who is getting poisoned by that bitterness. Unfortunately, that poison has spilled over and also affected my family… Innocent parties in the whole deal, and totally undeserving of the harm I caused.

This all came up in a conference at our church this weekend, Freedom in Christ. One of the things that was discussed at length was the necessity of forgiving people who have wronged us because, as Buechner said so eloquently, anger and bitterness and grudges and chips on the shoulder harm the angry, bitter, grudge & chip carrier much more than the people at whom those nasty thoughts are directed. I’m happy to report that I’ve forgiven some people that I should have forgiven a long time ago, and the freedom I feel from granting that forgiveness is… truly refreshing.

It’s Not If We Will Worship…

Filed under: Faith & Worship — dave @ 10:20 am 2010/03/21

but what…
   or who…

A short but excellent video was shown leading up to today’s worship service at Central. You can view it for free at SermonSpice.com.

Wonder is the basis of worship. Worship is transcendent wonder.
— Thomas Carlyle

Worship can never be a performance… [but] an overflow of your heart.
— Matt Redman

Express the same delight in God which made David dance.
— C.S. Lewis

Thanksgiving

Filed under: Faith & Worship,Just Stuff — dave @ 11:43 pm 2009/11/25

It’s Thanksgiving time again… Time to Give Thanks. As a Christian, I’m forever thankful for all the blessings that God sends my way; my wife, my kids, my family, my church, my job, the possessions He’s entrusted to me, his constant provision for me… but most of all thankful for his grace and his mercy and his never-ending love for me shown in the forgiveness He extends to me through Christ Jesus. That gift is overwhelmingly awesome… It’s difficult to put into words.

This time of year seems to always puzzle me when people who claim to be atheist or agnostic still say they are ‘thankful’ for things… Question is, to whom or to what do they give their thanks? Isn’t thankfulness and gratitude predicated on the acknowledgement that what you are thankful for came from someone?

The history of this holiday certainly shows that it is based on giving thanks to God. The holiday was instituted by Abraham Lincoln, and he had this to say in his Thanksgiving Proclamation;

I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.

On a somewhat related note, I heard Rush Limbaugh give his annual History of Thanksgiving reading. So I thought I’d look it up and share it. Hope you enjoy it!

On August 1, 1620, the Mayflower set sail. It carried a total of 102 passengers, including forty Pilgrims led by William Bradford. On the journey, Bradford set up an agreement, a contract, that established just and equal laws for all members of the new community, irrespective of their religious beliefs.

Where did the revolutionary ideas expressed in the Mayflower Compact come from? From the Bible. The Pilgrims were a people completely steeped in the lessons of the Old and New Testaments. They looked to the ancient Israelites for their example. And, because of the biblical precedents set forth in Scripture, they never doubted that their experiment would work.

“But this was no pleasure cruise, friends. The journey to the New World was a long and arduous one. And when the Pilgrims landed in New England in November, they found, according to Bradford’s detailed journal, a cold, barren, desolate wilderness,” destined to become the home of the Kennedy family. “There were no friends to greet them, he wrote. There were no houses to shelter them. There were no inns where they could refresh themselves. And the sacrifice they had made for freedom was just beginning.

During the first winter, half the Pilgrims – including Bradford’s own wife – died of either starvation, sickness or exposure.

“When spring finally came, Indians taught the settlers how to plant corn, fish for cod and skin beavers for coats.” Yes, it was Indians that taught the white man how to skin beasts. “Life improved for the Pilgrims, but they did not yet prosper! This is important to understand because this is where modern American history lessons often end. “Thanksgiving is actually explained in some textbooks as a holiday for which the Pilgrims gave thanks to the Indians for saving their lives, rather than as a devout expression of gratitude grounded in the tradition of both the Old and New Testaments.

Here is the part [of Thanksgiving] that has been omitted: The original contract the Pilgrims had entered into with their merchant-sponsors in London called for everything they produced to go into a common store, and each member of the community was entitled to one common share.

“All of the land they cleared and the houses they built belong to the community as well. They were going to distribute it equally. All of the land they cleared and the houses they built belonged to the community as well. Nobody owned anything. They just had a share in it. It was a commune, folks. It was the forerunner to the communes we saw in the ’60s and ’70s out in California – and it was complete with organic vegetables, by the way.

Bradford, who had become the new governor of the colony, recognized that this form of collectivism was as costly and destructive to the Pilgrims as that first harsh winter, which had taken so many lives.

He decided to take bold action. Bradford assigned a plot of land to each family to work and manage, thus turning loose the power of the marketplace.

“That’s right. Long before Karl Marx was even born, the Pilgrims had discovered and experimented with what could only be described as socialism. And what happened?

It didn’t work! Surprise, surprise, huh?

What Bradford and his community found was that the most creative and industrious people had no incentive to work any harder than anyone else, unless they could utilize the power of personal motivation!

But while most of the rest of the world has been experimenting with socialism for well over a hundred years – trying to refine it, perfect it, and re-invent it – the Pilgrims decided early on to scrap it permanently.

What Bradford wrote about this social experiment should be in every schoolchild’s history lesson. If it were, we might prevent much needless suffering in the future.

“‘The experience that we had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years…that by taking away property, and bringing community into a common wealth, would make them happy and flourishing – as if they were wiser than God,’ Bradford wrote. ‘For this community [so far as it was] was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For young men that were most able and fit for labor and service did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without any recompense…that was thought injustice.’

Why should you work for other people when you can’t work for yourself? What’s the point?

“Do you hear what he was saying, ladies and gentlemen? The Pilgrims found that people could not be expected to do their best work without incentive. So what did Bradford’s community try next? They unharnessed the power of good old free enterprise by invoking the undergirding capitalistic principle of private property.

Every family was assigned its own plot of land to work and permitted to market its own crops and products. And what was the result?

‘This had very good success,’ wrote Bradford, ‘for it made all hands industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been.’

Bradford doesn’t sound like much of a… liberal Democrat, “does he? Is it possible that supply-side economics could have existed before the 1980s? Yes.

“Read the story of Joseph and Pharaoh in Genesis 41. Following Joseph’s suggestion (Gen 41:34), Pharaoh reduced the tax on Egyptians to 20% during the ‘seven years of plenty’ and the ‘Earth brought forth in heaps.’ (Gen. 41:47)

In no time, the Pilgrims found they had more food than they could eat themselves…. So they set up trading posts and exchanged goods with the Indians. The profits allowed them to pay off their debts to the merchants in London.

And the success and prosperity of the Plymouth settlement attracted more Europeans and began what came to be known as the ‘Great Puritan Migration.’”

Now, other than on this program every year, have you heard this story before? Is this lesson being taught to your kids today — and if it isn’t, why not? Can you think of a more important lesson one could derive from the pilgrim experience?

So in essence there was, thanks to the Indians, because they taught us how to skin beavers and how to plant corn when we arrived, but the real Thanksgiving was thanking the Lord for guidance and plenty — and once they reformed their system and got rid of the communal bottle and started what was essentially free market capitalism, they produced more than they could possibly consume, and they invited the Indians to dinner, and voila, we got Thanksgiving, and that’s what it was: inviting the Indians to dinner and giving thanks for all the plenty is the true story of Thanksgiving.

The last two-thirds of this story simply are not told.

Now, I was just talking about the plenty of this country and how I’m awed by it. You can go to places where there are famines, and we usually get the story, “Well, look it, there are deserts, well, look it, Africa, I mean there’s no water and nothing but sand and so forth.”

It’s not the answer, folks. Those people don’t have a prayer because they have no incentive. They live under tyrannical dictatorships and governments.

The problem with the world is not too few resources. The problem with the world is an insufficient distribution of capitalism.

The Church Feminine

Filed under: Faith & Worship,The Deep — dave @ 2:27 pm 2009/10/21

Had a slightly disorienting experience last weekend… Emily was up for an award at Augie, so we went to the Viking Days Chapel Service on Sunday morning, held in the Elmen Center. During the service, the only male involved in the service was Rob Oliver, the college president, who opened the service with a brief welcome message. That was it. Everyone else — other than the male members of the band and choir performing for the service — was female. The procession involved only women… The Scripture readers were women… The preaching was done by a woman… Communion was served by women… The service sounded pretty much like any generic Lutheran service I’d attended in the past; a liturgy very reminiscent of that followed by Catholics every day around the world, which is probably why it seemed strange to me that it was all women. There was no big deal made of the absence of the Y-chromosome that day, but it was noticeable. At least by me.

Augustana College “is a selective, private, residential, comprehensive (liberal arts and professional) college of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America;” the ELCA tends to be a bit more on the liberal side of the scale than any of my church experiences. Female pastors have been ordained and leading churches in the denomination for quite some time, and now the denomination even “partnered gay and lesbian pastors to be ordained and called to serve churches. Previously, the ELCA allowed only celibate homosexual pastors.” Given that, an all-female chapel service shouldn’t have been surprising.

I guess the older I get, the more difficulty I have with things like that; things that are done differently than what I’m used to. When I was growing up (in the Catholic church) only men & boys were involved in leading Mass. Thinking back there were on occasion women (nuns) leading some songs in some of the Masses, but for the most part it was priests and altar boys. Since my day, I understand things have expanded to allow girls or boys (now called “altar servers”), but I’ve been away from Catholicism long enough that that’s outside my experience. I’ve now been a member of a somewhat traditional Baptist congregation for nearly all my adult life; there, women are involved in the worship services and the denomination has ordained women as pastors, but the church has fairly rigid guidelines as to the role of women in ministry. I can recall only one time that a ‘sermon’ was delivered by a woman at that church, and that wasn’t well received by a number of people in the congregation. These days, I think women are allowed to teach Sunday school to kids, but it’s got to be a guy teaching a class of adults. I don’t know if that’s actually in the rule books anywhere, but I’ve heard that from a couple of sources; it would come as no surprise to me if it were true.

The ELCA has pretty much declared that Paul’s admonition against allowing women to teach men is an anachronistic holdover from a time and society where that sort of thing wasn’t acceptable (they seem to have gone to an extreme though with the homosexuals in ministry issue) My own church is of a decidedly different mindset, one with which I’ve grown more comfortable over the years. I didn’t really have a problem with the church service on Sunday; it didn’t make me uncomfortable, it just took me by surprise I guess, because all the things that I had become so accustomed to seeing done by men in a Catholic Mass were being done by women. Like I said; just a bit disorienting. A bit of disorientation is maybe a good thing because it makes us think about the things we take for granted, and wonder if there are valid reasons behind the way things are.

It’s funny that we as Christians tend to pick and choose which Biblical teachings we hang onto, anachronistic or not — for example, you won’t find many people in Christian circles arguing that we start worshiping and enjoying a day of rest on Saturdays instead of Sundays, even though nothing in the Bible gives clear direction that changing the Sabbath to Sunday was something we should do. It’s something that was done ages ago to honor the day that Jesus was raised from the dead, but… The Old Testament is pretty clear; “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” And Saturday has always been the Sabbath.

But anyway… the whole women in ministry thing is one of those contentious cognitive dissonance subjects that we as a church don’t really talk much about, because some people feel pretty strongly one way or another, and because many others (me included) have conflicting feelings about it, and just don’t want to make waves. One day though, it’ll all be made plain to us, but for now, we muddle along pretending we know what we’re doing.

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