Sunday, August 16, 2009

My basket is full of things

One of the books I've been going through lately is Following Francis: The Francisican Way for Everyone. The author, Susan Pitchford, is a NorthWest American college professor, and part of the value of the book for me has been the way the author's values and mine don't overlap.

This week's section has been on Obedience - about what submitting to authority means. I'm one of those people who really likes rules - they give structure, they make a foundation, they set boundaries and make a bowl so life doesn't slop over the sides and get wasted as you're mixing things up. I follow rules (like walking on the sidewalk and not the grass) even when there's no sign posted, and I fret internally when I don't follow the rules.

(Don't get me started on what I think about people who delight in rule-breaking. It's far less charitable than I should be.)

Some people have nightmares about the Nazis coming for them. Me, I sometimes have nightmares about shoving people in ovens. Because that's where I'd fail - to not have the courage to examine what I'm doing.


Other parts of Following Francis have dealt with Simplicity and Poverty - dealing with not having things that we want. Which - hmm. I've traveled a fair bit, so I understand that people's perceptions of what is needful vs nice-to-have can vary quite a bit. (Right now I'm still hung up on indoor flush toilets.) But I travel - and even before airtravel became a global warming beating boy, world travel has been a sign of (a great deal of) disposable wealth. Even when you're doing missions-related travel.

So I read with interest this BBC report on average home sizes across the globe. And this article about different ways of measuring healthcare across the globe. And this article about the outrage over an op-ed by a Whole Foods CEO - people who regularly buy very high-priced foodstuffs are outraged by the suggestion that present schemes for reforming health care aren't the best option. (Connected to that: an article on the limitations of Fair Trade schemes.)

One of the most frustrating things about "the current political climate" - although I'm not sure this was ever *not* true, as my memories of calm harmony probably had more to do with ideologicial isolation than of actual peaceful discourse between people of different stances - is that people seem to insist on "litmus tests" of ideology (government control is bad, fair trade is good, health care reform is needed NOW, war is bad, gun control is bad) without allowing for degrees of difference.


Speaking of traveling and staying healthy and different priorities: here is an article about working out while Muslim and female. And an article about different cultures responding to facial expressions was very interesting - if a pretty good example of a not-very-good study: 13 subjects in two groups means not a terrific setup. One of the issues with communication is that so much of it is non-verbal. Imagine if a nod or a frown means different things.

(Critters do this too - Scottish fold cats have permanently bent over ears, that make other cats think they are angry. Rodesian Ridgeback dogs have spiky hair on their backs that mimics an expression of aggression. Dogs that want to play wag their tails, and lift a forepaw - both of which are expressions that cats use to mean "go away, I don't want any.")


One last thing, to end on a "the world is getting better all the time" note: Elephant gets prostetic limb.

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