Sunday, November 27, 2005

Another Sermon from the Cheesemaker

From The Life of Brian:
[Jesus is preaching the Sermon on the Mount, but some of the people toward the back can't quite hear what he's saying.]
Spectator I: I think it was "Blessed are the cheesemakers."
Mrs. Gregory: Aha, what's so special about the cheesemakers?
Gregory: Well, obviously it's not meant to be taken literally; it refers to any manufacturers of dairy products.

I use "cheesemaker" to describe myself because I'm very serious about trying to be a peacemaker, but don't want to set myself up as a paragon. I'm just a cheesemaker. Here I go again, churning out more cheese.

I had an interesting day today. It was full of friendship, crises, mild stress, and more ethical choices than I normally run into in a week. Let me tell you about it.

Act One: Church

Before church this morning I rushed into my office and, while checking my email, quickly scanned a sermon by one of our priests. I've had the thing for four weeks, but hadn't yet turned the hard copy into an electronic one. So I put it on my scanner it this morning, in the hope that later I would be able to save the file both as a jpg or something and as a Word file. I needed to do both, because this particular priest does a lot of underlining and hand-edits on his printouts. When I do OCR (Optical Character Recognition - cheap software trying to "read" the words), the poor thing gets confused by all those underlines and hashmarks and squiggles and handwritten words. I have to type what it's supposed to be, and clean it all up in Word when the OCR is done.

So anyway, I had this old sermon I was rushing to get into the computer, because I was afraid the priest would be there today and want his sermon back. I should have done it before, but I'd put it off, first because of the dead phone line in my office, which resulted in my computer and my scanner being in different rooms; and later because, well, it's a lot of work, and I was busy! By this morning, I didn't have time to do the OCR and corrections. But I did what I could, stuffed the sermon in my purse, and went to church.

It turned out that this particular priest will be back next week. (He's semi-retired.) So I have more time to do this right. Whew!

See, I was already feeling guilty, because I've been a slacker on the church web site lately. I think I didn't get the first half of the announcements typed and uploaded until Wednesday, and the second half until Thursday. I still haven't gotten the Advent Bazaar flyer posted. Bad Karen. No biscuit!

But when I got to church, did anyone complain? They did not. Two different people told me that because of my notice about making egg sandwiches for the Casa Maria soup kitchen, three people who Googled Casa Maria saw that announcement, and drove all the way from nearby Vail, AZ to help make sandwiches on Friday. Good thing that notice was in the Wednesday batch. Had it been in the Thursday announcements, it might not have hit Google in time.

So I got away with those two things for now, but I need to do better.

Then came the real moral dilemmas of the morning.

1. At the end of Mass, the Sunday School kids came up and sang two verses of O Come O Come Emmanuel. They were so cute! I know Father John wanted me to take pictures of them, so I obliged. But I was also mindful of the AOL Guidelines that another John S. mentioned a few months ago, that one shouldn't post pictures of other people's kids without parental permission, especially if you identify where predators can find them, such as at a particular school. Or St. Michael's, I suppose. So, since I was serving as Mass anyway, and was therefore sitting behind the kids, I took pictures of them from behind. The photo has no identifying features for anyone to use to get to these children. Did I do the right thing? Should I post this picture? I'm not sure, but here it is.

2. About a month ago, two 23-year-old volunteers for a humanitarian group called No More Deaths were arrested by the Border Patrol for driving sick, dehydrated illegal border crossers to a Tucson hospital, on a doctor's advice. No More Deaths provides water and first aid to try to reduce the horrendous, ever-growing number of deaths in the Arizona desert each year, often in cooperation with the Border Patrol. But this time, two people were brought up on federal charges, and could go to prison for 15 years.

The pro bono lawyer for this group was at our church today. The stand the group is making is that it should never be illegal to give humanitarian aid, to provide succor to suffering people in an attempt to prevent needless death. Now understand, these border crossers would have been deported after their hospital stay anyway. Nobody from No More Deaths was trying to smuggle anyone. They were just trying to save lives.

So anyway, the lawyer handed out lawn signs after church. I ageed to take one, but I didn't promise to put it on my lawn, saying only that I would talk to my husband about it. (John's stance is that he wants to know more about the specific situation from an unbiased source, before putting up the sign). But to be honest, I'm a little afraid to display the sign on our lawn. I agree with it, absolutely, but the border problem is a very divisive issue around here, with a lot of kneejerk sentiment and thinly-veiled prejudice. If I display this thing, will a neighbor take it away? Will I be harrassed? Or will nothing happen at all?

I'm such a coward sometimes. I hate confrontations and ill-will. I have no problem at all telling you guys all about this, because I can explain the situation. I've even written about this problem before. But a lawn sign has to be its own explanation, and I'm not sure it's up to the task.

Act Two: Eva

My 100-year-old friend Eva is in the hospital. She wants to go home, even if it means checking herself out against medical advice. My friend Kevin and I are trying to convince her to stay in the hospital, long enough for arrangements to be made to get her in assisted living. See, she's been talking care if herself, by herself, in a small apartment, without even a grab bar in her bathtub. The doctors want her in the relatively safe situation of assisted living, where she'll get physical therapy, and theoretically more of the right kinds of food (ask Chuck how likely this is), and have someone nearby if her blood pressure gets dangerously low again and she collapses, or breaks a hip or whatever. But Eva doesn't want to hang around the hospital waiting for all that to happen. A retired nurse, Eva figures she has a pretty good handle on her own condition and care, and anyway, she's not trying to live forever.

So is she right or wrong here? Kevin and I both think she should wait it out at the hospital. But it's her decision. Should she be able to make an informed decision to go home to her apartment, and take her chances? Yes. Should she choose to do that? Probably not. But why not? It's not as if she's at risk of dying young here. and the telephone's in easy reach of the places she's likely to be.

Act Three: AOL Crises Du Jour

I wrote this earlier tonight in someone's AOL Journal, in response to someone feeling deserted by us, um, deserters.

Okay, I'm going to say this again. I've said it in Musings, I've said it in Outpost, and I've said it in comments elsewhere. But apparently, many people haven't gotten the word yet, or don't quite believe it:

1. Those of us who have started blogging elsewhere, by and large, have not deserted everyone else. We have not betrayed you, we don't wish you ill, we're not going to stop reading your words because of a banner ad. (I haven't cancelled a single AOL Alert since moving my primary blogging venue off AOL.) Yes, there are a few extremists who have said and done nasty things, on both sides of the issue. Don't be fooled. They don't speak for the rest of us.

2. We have not left the community. We've only moved across the street, to the complex that doesn't have a neon billboard on the front lawn. We don't have some of the amenities we were used to in the old place, but we're learning that there's a lot of stuff we can do here that the old landlord didn't allow. And we haven't had the same problems with burst pipes, broken air conditioning, and a landlord that doesn't listen to us. Come visit us any time! We're only a few steps away, and we're always delighted to see you. We still love you, and we still care what's going on in your lives.

3. Some people may slip back to AOL, because it's easier and familiar. I've been tempted myself, but something always happens to convince me that I'm going to be on Blogspot for the long haul. I've been kind of a fence-sitter. I still occasionally post to
Musings, to tell you what I'm up to elsewhere, and to try to reach people who haven't seriously considered reading any blogs off AOL. What are you afraid of? It's only us, and it's only the Internet! No need to be angry or hurt. It was never you we were angry with, and we hope you're not angry with us! We're all J-Land, even now, even if the URL has changed.

You can find me here: (occasionally)
http://outmavarin.blogspot. com (once or twice a day)

One thing I left out of the above note of reassurance is that a lot of people are behind in reading everyone's journals, because they've been busy getting everything set up in the new digs. This is a temporary problem that should clear itself soon.

The other thing that happened was that a good friend's feelings were hurt, because she thought I was avoiding her AOL Journal. In truth, it was all due to a glitch in the AOL Alerts, and my not being on top of my reading of everyone's blogs. I still need to add a lot of them to Bloglines, since it looks as though FeedBlitz isn't doing the job. Anyway, I was able to reassure my friend, and all was smiles by the end of the day.

May that be true for all of us!



Carly said...

This is a very thoughtful and thought provoking post. Just as you wrote in the entry before this one, we can all feel a little abandoned at times in this big mess. We are all still here, and we are only a new link away.

Always, Carly :)

Phil Hollows said...


Please email feedblitz support if you think something's not working.



julie said...

We've had the same issue with kid pictures in our school system. The way around it (at least for them) is that every child whose picture appears anywhere in school district publications, yearbooks, or on the web site has to have a signed release on file. One year I did the elementary school yearbook and I had to pretty much go through every candid snapshot before allowing them in because a few students did not have signed releases. And those who didn't have signed releases couldn't get their school picture in the yearbook, either.

It's not just a predator issue; there are also families that have a restraining order against a violent non-custodial parent and are trying to lay low. So sad.