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Off the top

A blog dedicated to the Source of everything good.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Lily buds #9: the last holdout

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Oksana painting

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As I was walking to the childrens' beach at Chautauqua Institution on a spectacular afternoon, I happened upon my friend Oksana. She graciously allowed me to photograph her.

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Note the Miller Bell tower, symbol of Chautauqua, in the background.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Lily buds #8: down but not out

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A thunderstorm knocked down my favorite lily, which is why the flower on the right is pollen-smeared. I propped it up in the shrubbery, though, and it doesn't look much worse for the wear :-)

Note the holes in the flower on the right; check the post below (Lily buds #7).

Just think, these gorgeous flowers started out like this.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Lily buds #7: sabotage!

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(Will the lily prevail??)

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Update, 7/24/05

Boy, one doesn’t realize how much time one is accustomed to spending doing blogging and related activities until one’s computer time is drastically cut down! It’s also a lot easier to write in WordPerfect than on a tablet, and to be able to write while the inspiration is still fresh.

I have a backlog of photos to put up; I hope to get to that sporadically during the next week, & more regularly after that.

Likewise, I’ve got a tremendous backlog of Chautauqua-related stuff to write about and hopefully post, including notes on lectures and the dress rehearsal of the opera, "The Crucible." I’ve resorted to purchasing tapes of lectures I've heard because my notes and memory are not adequate to do them justice.

Most excitingly, I was able to hear Robert Seiple speak a few times and was thrilled to hear a major speaker at Chautauqua not compromising the gospel! I am not typically one to wear my heart on my sleeve, but will confess that I was moved to tears a few times by his words, especially when he quoted Isaiah 52:7, “How beautiful...are the feet of those who bring good news” in the context of discussing major world problems. Our worst problems have not so much to do with general misfortune as with man’s inhumanity to man, which only the gospel can adequately address.

The topics of discussion at Chautauqua have centered around justice and peace – things that seem to be on the minds of a lot of people. I mentioned at Intellectuelle that much of the discussion seems to be about ways to find common ground, promote ecumenism, and accept pluralism in order to make everyone happy so things like 9/11 and the war in Iraq won’t happen any more. But Seiple maintained -- boldly, generously, and humbly -- that the path to justice and peace must start with confession and forgiveness, leading to reconciliation. He acknowledged that people do terrible things to one another, but affirmed that we have a true and real hope in God through Jesus even though sometimes we may not see the payoff of our efforts toward reconciliation within our own lifetimes. He also spoke of the importance of story, and of – here I go again – relationship. Good policy and good government can effect change, but even those are borne of honest relationship based on reconciliation of wrongs, which motivate people of influence to do good things. That is the witness we are all called to – a witness of what the gospel truly means.

I pray that Seiple's message may take hold in the hearts and minds of Chautauquans everywhere.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Lily buds update

Getting (almost) caught up with my favorite lily:

lily buds #6 view 1
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lily buds #6 view 2
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lily buds #5
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previous installments (#s 1-4)

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Chautaqua flowers #3: pink-flowering vine

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This gorgeous flowering vine is climbing the railings of a building at Chautauqua. It has glossy, ripply-textured (I'm sure there's a more scientific name for that), elongated-oval leaves. It's planted in a pot. Anyone know what it is?

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Chautauqua flowers #2: elephant ear

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Sunday, July 17, 2005

Chautauqua flowers #1: orange daylily

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Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Hosta study

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Sunday, July 10, 2005

Lily buds #4

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Thursday, July 07, 2005


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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Bits and pieces, 7/07/05

chestless children

Check out my post at Intellectuelle called Children without chests.


think like a plant

Macht at Prosthesis discusses a Netfuture article which uses buttercup leaves to illustrate the fact that living beings, including humans, possess fluidity. They develop on a continuum. Their appearance and capacity may change drastically over the course of their lives, yet they remain the same organism throughout.

I can anticipate that folks might take the same view toward a buttercup seed as they take toward a human zygote, i.e., the seed/zygote represents potential, not actual life. Yet such a view is chillingly utilitarian, because indeed there is life within the seed and the zygote – not mere potential for life. Potential for life lies within the pollen grain and the ova, the sperm and the egg – but once the two combine, life becomes actual.

From this concept of fluidity, Macht makes the excellent point that judging the worth of something based merely upon characteristics that may come or go represents discrimination.

We've slowly come to realize that discrimination based on gender, skin color, age and physical/mental handicap are wrong. The pro-life position is that discrimination based on size, degree of dependency on others, cognitive development, and other similar things are just as wrong.

Preach it, brother.


sinful babies?

Jeremy the Parableman has an interesting post on baptism and whether or not infants are “guilty.” Wish I had more time to think about this one...


on the roam

Blogging will be tricky for the next several days as I will not have much computer access. Please bear with me :-)

Lily buds #3

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Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Bits and pieces, 7/05/05

After a few glitches (problems with the server), Intellectuelle is off the ground. We’ve introduced ourselves and now regular posting begins. Please stop by and see what’s on our minds (and hearts). Feel free to share what’s on yours in the comments.


Joe Carter at Evangelical Outpost presents an article by Macht of Prosthesis as part of his “Expert Witness” series. Macht’s piece discusses definitions and understandings of technology. I found these very interesting in light of some of the discussion that’s been engendered on my contraception posts (links in sidebar). According to the theories of technology that Macht mentions, I believe contraception to be “instrumental,” i.e., of neutral morality on its own. I would view a firearm the same way. Contraception and guns can both be used either for good or for evil, but are not evil in and of themselves.

At least one of my Catholic dissenters, however, views contraception “substantively,” i.e., believes it to be possessed of evil in and of itself, because of its purpose and intent (see comments here). In the Catholic view, there is never a legitimate reason to do what contraception does.

I would like to further explore ways to look at contraception as a technology, and hope to have opportunity to do soon.

(I discuss C. S. Lewis' views of contraception as a technology in this post.)


John Schroeder posts yet another excellent entry in the GodBlogCon prayer blog, which I highly recommend to anyone who confesses a faith in God through Jesus Christ (not just those interested in the GBC). He quotes Oswald Chambers:

The counterfeit of obedience is a state of mind in which you create your own opportunities to sacrifice yourself, and your zeal and enthusiasm are mistaken for discernment. It is easier to sacrifice yourself than to fulfill your spiritual destiny, which is stated in Romans 12:1-2 . It is much better to fulfill the purpose of God in your life by discerning His will than it is to perform great acts of self-sacrifice. "Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice . . ." ( 1 Samuel 15:22 ). Beware of paying attention or going back to what you once were, when God wants you to be something that you have never been. "If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know . . ." ( John 7:17 ).


Alas, I was not able to attend Jim Wallisafternoon lecture at Chautauqua Institution on July 4th as planned, because I had to work! I played the holiday pops concert with the Chautauqua Symphony, which rehearsed at the same time as the lecture. I will try to find a Chautauquan Daily newspaper and read the report on Wallis’ lecture. Perhaps I will write about it.

Wallis is also speaking during the morning worship services every day this week, but I won’t be able get to those.


I prefer to call it "morning glory" :-)

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Saturday, July 02, 2005

Airport open house

Last weekend, my family and I attended the annual open house/airshow at the county airport. Several unusual and historically significant aircraft were available for viewing, boarding, and purchasing short flights upon. Some made (noisy!) flyovers, including a B-25 bomber and a P-51 Mustang.

Kids could enter a drawing for free rides on small local planes; my kids won several! Two 15-minute flights over the lake and back weren’t enough for my daughter...

I wish I knew more about the aircraft, but they were fascinating to look at anyway. A few of them passed right over our house on their way to and from the airport!

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