Another Sunday — Sojourn I

I wrote two weeks ago about starting my church journey again, visiting Southwood Presbyterian for the first time. I had planned to go back the following week, but that didn’t work out.

This past Sunday, I was back at Sojourn for my one-Sunday-a-month responsibility to teach a lesson for the kids. This week was about the call for Christians to be the light of the world, and what that means. I got to use my “God is my iPhone” analogy, which made me happy.

Sunday, hopefully, back to Southwood.

Not Ready To Make Nice

This is the latest in my series of blog entries taking a fresh look at a variety of topics over the next year. I’ve set up a page on the blog explaining the project and linking to my entries. This week’s topic is “Being Your Brother’s Keeper.”

I’m tired of nice.

Seriously tired of it. Tired of being nice; far more tired of other people being nice.

Courteous, considerate, kind, polite. Those are all fine. But, nice? Let’s ditch nice. Can we?

This may be a slightly odd tack for this topic, but it’s what’s on my mind right now, so I’m writing it.

And there’s nothing wrong with being nice, per se. But for whatever reason, it seems like when people are being nice, they’re all too often “just being nice.” As is, “Do you mean it, or are you just being nice.” And it’s amazing the damage that can do.

There’s nothing wrong with being aware of people’s feelings. That’s a good thing to do. The problem comes in when you do it to someone’s detriment. The girl who leads a guy on because she’s too “nice” to tell him he doesn’t have a chance. Sure, his feelings, for the moment are saved, but at the cost of investing his time and emotion in something he shouldn’t. And, then, when the time comes when being nice is no longer an option, the blow to the feelings are even greater because of the deeper investment. The person who allows a friend to have false confidence in an ability — “oh, you sing so well” — or false security in a situation is only setting them up for disappointment.

And it’s hard, I’ll admit that. I’ve been critical of the idea of “nice” for a while now, but I’m still probably guilty of it on rare occasions. It’s hard to look someone in the eyes — especially when it’s someone you care about — and intentionally say something that’s going to hurt.

For myself, I try very hard to never say anything dishonest. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t things sometimes left unsaid. And, in general, to some extent, I think that’s OK. You can’t tell everybody everything. But when that neglect becomes deceptive, particularly in a way that could be detrimental to the other person, that’s dishonest.

Because, and this gets to the core of the idea of being your brother’s keeper for me, caring about somebody doesn’t mean caring about their feelings. It means caring about their well-being. Now, their feelings may be part of that, but they’re not the entire picture. And at the point where you’re sacrificing someone’s well-being because you’re too gentle with their feelings, you’re not doing them any favors at all. And if you’re doing it because you’re not willing to hurt their feelings, that’s being selfish.

And that’s not nice at all.

Well, Wookie What We Have Here

I went to the new Star Wars exhibit at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center here.

Trek Tok

Really, Apple?

I mean, how many people really need this? Are people going to forget? “Hmmm, seems like there was something I was supposed to get today? Milk? Bread? Most awesome device ever invented in the history of mankind? Toilet paper? Darn!”

I think I probably would have remembered without the reminder. But, thanks, Apple.

Sunday Narcissism

It’s not really so much that I generally photograph poorly, as that I generally photograph accurately, which has the same result, save the fault is not the photograph’s, but mine. Photo Booth on the Mac, however, for whatever reason, can be kind sometimes. Sat around playing for embarrassingly long getting increasingly silly; these amused me.

It’s Cobblerin’ Time!

Among the things I’ve done in the past week:

— I went backstage at a Jewel concert, having been chosen as an official blogger for the concert by the tour’s sponsor
— When I blogged about the experience, I set a new traffic record for my blog and got a response from Jewel herself
— I met with the head of the National Space Society’s policy committee to discuss his thoughts on current events
— I reobtained the second copy I ever had of my first book
— I generated dozens of pages of text for my second book
— I acted in an improv comedy show, which was hilarious
— I ordered a new iPhone
— I made blackberry cobbler

It says something about my life that the item in that list that stands out the most to me is the last one. I’ve never made blackberry cobbler before. It was kind of exciting to actually do it.

It was sad how happy it made me. But, one, it was good. Two, I am so unhandy in the kitchen it’s unreal. This was incredibly easy to make; I mean, unbelievably easy to make, and yet I was disproportionately proud of it because I am so incompetent in this area. But, in its way, making the cobbler was also liberating and redemptive.

I told the story the other day of why I had to make it — my friend Heather wanted to make a bet as to whether Jewel would play Sweet Home Alabama at her concert Sunday. Seemed reasonable to me she would; she didn’t. The stake was that the loser would bring cobbler to work, and so on Friday I did. I actually made two; the first to make sure I could do it, the second to take to work.

I have a long history with blackberry cobbler. It’s kind of a favorite, and, for me, with my general disdain for favorites, that’s saying something. My ex-wife, Nicole, loved it, and that wore off on me. After the divorce, that was kind of a negative association, but my ex-fiancée brought it into our relationship very early and sort of redeemed it for me. And, unlike Nicole, she actually made it herself. Not bad, either. The end of that relationship cast shadows on blackberry cobbler again, but not to the same extent, since it was no longer something associated with one particular person or epoch.

So when Heather and I made the bet, part of me actually hoped to lose. I figured it would be a good opportunity for me, providing motivation to do something that would be good for me to do. And, really, it was. I can now have homemade blackberry cobbler whenever I want, without needing anyone to make it. (Over a year ago, when I became a hot redhead and went to prom with Marshall Space Flight Center’s resigning director I wrote a post talking about how I accidentally once declared that I wanted to become the woman of my dreams. Cobbler baking was a big step toward that.) And, to be honest, the two cobblers I made this week were more consistently good than hers was, though that’s partially because the recipe was so unambitious.

And, it’s redemptive. My latest association I have with blackberry cobbler is very positive, something I’m proud of, and something nobody can take from me later.

So hooray for the redemptive power of tasty blackberry cobbler!

If anyone’s interested, I’ll share the incredibly ridiculously easy recipe I used, largely because of how incredibly unlikely the idea of me blogging a recipe is:

1 stick butter or margarine
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
2 cups fruit

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in glass 8-by-10-inch pan or 2-quart casserole. Mix flour, sugar and milk until lumps are gone. Pour batter into butter. Place fruit on top. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Makes 9 servings.

Like I said, sad how proud I am of that, but there you go.