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Originally published at Faith Seeking Understanding. You can comment here or there.

… now with added functional ‘m’ and ‘s’ keys (which is nice, but takes away my excuse for the embarrassing number of typing mistakes)

A few weeks ago my old laptop’s keyboard started giving out on me. I went to arrange a repair, and I found out that my warranty had expired the week prior. Rather than buying a new warranty I went ahead and bit the bullet on a new computer. That was the easy part. It arrived in Newark (a city not far from NYC – I often fly out of there) last Friday, but between the storm and having it shipped to my uni rather than my apartment (as I’m not always home), it was today before I got it. Then I spent three hours sorting out a problem with how the software was installed… only to not solve it, take a break, call back and have the situation not happen again. It was the equivalent of having a repair man turn around the batteries in the remote control.

But! I now have a computer that is more than just a pretty face. It’s sleeker, lighter-weight, and with a number pad + wider screen. THe speakers are also surprisingly good for a laptop. There’s a subwoofer on the underside of the laptop I know, and at least three good strips of speakers that I’ve found on the computer itself. For someone who’s as into music as I am, this is both a major step forward and a gaping question of how I’ve survived this long without one.

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On a slightly different note, someone has been posting this picture around on FB:

with a tagline like:

From a fan. It is in times of need that true humanity and love of one’s neighbors really shines. May we all remember these actions when we aren’t caught in such circumstances.

I feel a bad making this observation when I fared so much better than so many people in this storm. We didn’t even lose power, and when I was over on campus today I saw that there’s no real damage other than a few tree limbs that fell down. I don’t know the frustration of being out of contact with the inteing out a Christian perspective on rnet, though I was more than a bit afraid, and I know I should be encouraged by random acts of kindness like this.

But… well, real poverty has been on my mind lately. The BGEA has been running ads encouraging people to “vote for candidates who support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and woman, protect the sanctity of life, and defend our religious freedoms” because “the Bible speaks clearly on these crucial issues.” You know, as opposed to caring for the widows and orphans, welcoming the alien living within your gate into your community, beating swords into ploughshares and other socialist pipe-dreams. Maybe it’s my own personal connection to the Grahams, but seeing those ads just makes me heartsick.

I’m trying to remember all the good work SP does, and all the good people I know who work there. But I’m afraid right now, it’s an effort for shoeboxes and giant rolls of blue tarp to be the thing I think of when I hear the name Samaritan’s Purse. I’m hoping that will change with time.

Add to that the recent, frankly excellent blog post laying out a Christian ethic for fighting poverty. (Do read it; it offers a nice critique of both the contemporary Democrat and Republican approach.) The juxtaposition of these two things struck me palpably. Poverty, particularly global poverty, is such an important issue. One of the things I loved so much about my work at Samaritan’s Purse was they didn’t just do disaster relief but actually did good work breaking the cycles of poverty. So to see the Graham name used so baldly in the cultural wars really hurts. I worked there for a few months, so I have no great investment! Still, it feels like a betrayal or at least a loss of a group I thought did good work. (And this isn’t meant to whitewash SP or the Grahams; this focus on culture war politics just feels like a real departure from the things I thought they did really well, along with the aspects I often disagreed with strongly.) That all just leaves me feeling heartsick.

Anyway, I guess global (and local) poverty, along with the complete failure of both parties to address these crucial issues, is really on my mind. If I was without power I’d really be thankful someone did this. But restoring faith in humanity? Being without power for a few days seems like such a first-world problem. I’m glad to see middle-class Americans thinking of other middle-class Americans, but is this really enough to qualify us for moral sainthood these days? And does it make me a horrible person that this is my reaction to basic generosity? I don’t like this reaction but can’t quite not have it when I see that tagline. (I’ve tried…)

***************************

Speaking of the storm: Dwim asked asked about food shortages. Some grocery shelves are empty, but it’s not like there’s no food to be had. I may have to go without bread for a few days, but it’s more an inconvenience than a serious problem. The biggest problem was a lack of candy. (They had full-sized chocolate bars but no bite-sized pieces suitable for trick-or-treaters.) I baked ginger snaps with some pumpkin spice instead, and we didn’t have a single kid come by. Shame, that.

I’m not in Manhattan and maybe they have a harder time getting supplies on the island? But the bridges seem open again for the most part. With public transit hamstrung it may be harder than usual for delivery trucks to get around. But we’re not talking Dark Knight Rises territory even there, as far as I’ve heard.

How did I minimize people suffering from this storm twice in such a short space? Really, I’m very sympathetic. Dunno what’s up with me… As for myself, though, I’m okay materially. I have power, internet, hot water, and setting aside a few minor inconveniences I have any food item I could reasonably want across the street from my apartment. I’m a sensitive enough person that simply having to face my own cosmic insignificance would make me feel a bit battered around the ears. And seeing all that senseless destruction in my city certainly isn’t helping. But whatever I’m suffering is strictly inside my head. Doesn’t mean it’s not real (*tips hat to Dumbledore*) but it’s also not the kind of problems some people might be concerned about for me.

I have a story edited and ready to post, but given the fact I didn’t sleep lat night I think I’ll wait and post two stories tomorrow for NaNo. Best of luck to everyone participating. (Also: why ware you reading this? Shouldn’t you be writing?)

*******************

And finally: music lovers, if you’re also an Obama fan, do check out this album on Spotify. Good soulful music interspersed with Obama quotes. I highly recommend it.

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
lindahoyland
Nov. 1st, 2012 10:50 pm (UTC)
Your new laptop sounds great.

To me the heart of the Christian message is caring for others.
engarian
Nov. 2nd, 2012 01:36 am (UTC)
I loved Billy Graham. Although he could spout fire and brimstone with the best, he looked at the positive message of Christian love and allowed his gentle side to come out. That, along with his true charisma, allowed his success.

I can't stand his son. He is young, abrasive, hard-lined and anything but gentle. He is "you will go to hell" without the love coming through. I have been very disappointed and he won't do as well as his father did because the love is lacking. Too bad.

- Erulisse (one L)
still so relieved that my friends escaped serious injury and destruction and still insane while writing for NaNo
dreamflower02
Nov. 2nd, 2012 02:21 am (UTC)
encouraging people to “vote for candidates who support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and woman, protect the sanctity of life, and defend our religious freedoms” because “the Bible speaks clearly on these crucial issues.” You know, as opposed to caring for the widows and orphans, welcoming the alien living within your gate into your community,

*nods* I have begun to have such a knee-jerk reaction to this sort of appeal, that now, every time a candidate for office has an ad extolling his/her "conservative Christian values" I automatically cross that person OFF my list. How could it come to this?

And THANK YOU for that link to that blog. I would never have thought of that at all. That's an amazing and logical bit of Biblical interpretation--and I wondered why I have never heard anyone else make that connection before?

(It brings to mind a novel I read years ago; I do not remember the author or the title, but it was about an Irish clergyman who because of various political machinations found himself Pope. He seemed a simple soul, and the factions thought he'd be easily controlled. They didn't reckon with his taking a lot of things seriously that they would rather ignore, such as the old laws against usury. He ends up precipitating a global economic apocalypse when he insists that good Catholics (both individuals and countries) should not receive or pay interest on their loans...

The author, I think, was being rather cynical about how the world would react to someone who took Good too literally--the book did not end well. But it certainly made me think.)
azalaisdep
Nov. 2nd, 2012 11:23 pm (UTC)
If you're interested in the economic history of debt, and particularly in the concept of the jubilee and debt forgiveness and how that shapes the metaphors Jesus uses in so many of the parables, you might be interested in Debt: The First 5000 Years by David Graeber. I admit I haven't managed to read the whole book yet (it's a tome!) but I did find those bits fascinating.

(And as a result I got very grumpy with the minister at a service we attended last Sunday - for a family christening - who preached an entire sermon on money by assuming that several of the NT parables about money/wealth/inheritance were to be taken entirely literally and were talking about nothing else; the idea of parable-as-metaphor appeared to be entirely foreign to him, sigh.)
mrowe
Nov. 3rd, 2012 06:10 am (UTC)
Hmmm... that looks like a very interesting book (and one for the Amazon list). Thanks for the tip.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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