Denial in a Pretty Dress

Positive thinking doesn’t face facts.  It faces backwards.

A person may deny the uncomfortable reality that they are driving head-on into oncoming traffic.  They will miss the point but the point will not miss them.

Positive thinking, the kind which ignores negative realities, is not healthy and adds nothing more to life than does worry.  This variety of optimism which winces at the mention of the unthinkable will be burned, lost, forgotten, neglected, and hurt despite their pretend game.

They will be hit anyway but facing facts may make the difference between a head on collision and a minor bumper thumper.

And even if the worst case still occurs, at least you’ll have that moment to say goodbye.

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It’s All Your Fault: A Theory of Sin

If you’re anything like everyone else on the planet, you’re pretty good at proving your innocence.  As am I.

Your boss fails to notice all the great work you’ve been doing.  Someone swipes your frozen entree.  Your co-worker rambles on about his marital woes.  Someone cuts you off in traffic.  Your spouse is such a poor listener at dinner.  You sit up late feeling sorry for yourself, needing the empty laughter of TV reruns.  You fall asleep on the couch.

The next morning you wake up late because you missed your alarm.  You drag yourself into work late.  You would’ve been later had you not speed through those lights.  You forgot your lunch so on your break you spot a Freezer Queen meal, covered in ice, which you have seen there for weeks.  You take and eat it planning to replace it the next day.

But on your way home, your spouse calls.  She tells you about some trouble your kid got into at school.  You need to get home straightaway.  So, you skip the store.

A few days later when your co-worker checks the freezer for the just-in-case meal he has stowed away there he is frustrated when he is unable to find it.

He goes out for lunch.  He’s late getting back because servers were changing shifts and he had to wait for his ticket.  This is the third time recently that this has happened.  When he returns a half-hour late, he is called in to speak with the boss who then fires him.

When he is unable to land a new job, his wife threatens to leave him.  This is his fault.  This is an old routine.  She is tired of it.  He loses his insurance coverage and as a result cannot fill his anti-depressant.  She secretly takes out a credit card in his name and takes to power shopping.

Months later he intercepts a call from a collections agency who threaten to take away his car.  She gets home from the mall to discover his body hanging in the coat closet.

It may have all been different had you not stolen his lunch.  You assure yourself, you couldn’t have helped the situation.  He was troubled.  His marriage was troubled.  His wife had that secret credit account.  That was the deal breaker.

This isn’t your fault.

This would’ve happened either way.

You can go back to your regularly scheduled self-absorption.  I know I will.

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Why A Poor Critic May Be A Poor Critic

Money makes the world go round, it makes the film reel wind, it turns the pages.  That sounds cold and capitalistic.  I don’t like the implications but I think it’s true.

We’re familiar with the terms highbrow and lowbrow both of which evolved from phrenological descriptors, the first being the more refined, and the second being intellectually inferior, the caveman.

I don’t find that very helpful.  While that is an analysis of genetically enabled mental acuity and is attached to older ideas of class structure, I believe the poor are no less intelligent than are the wealthy.

If the poor are lesser critics, the problem is more to do with resources.  I write this because I have realized something about myself.  I tend to come away from nearly every movie or book with a favorable impression.  I have often wondered why, when I look up to see what the real critics think, my opinion is so routinely different than theirs.  I believe there are some objective measure on which criticism is founded and that not all evaluation or review is strictly opinion, although opinion has to be metered out.

I go to the movies once monthly and sometimes less often.  When I go I have a certain experience in mind.  This is why I purposefully choose films I believe I will enjoy.  While that is not limited to particular categories of film, I do tend to tread certain waters more than others.  I cannot afford to spend the time, the money, and the experience only to come away disappointed.  So, if I am, in fact, not entirely enthusiastic I will find a away to feel good about it.  I will dig for it.  Otherwise, I would be too annoyed to bear it.  Too feel cheated would just be too much.

As I say this, I understand that this phenomenon effects other people differently.  I’ve known of people who hardly appreciate anything.  Why?  Because for one, they don’t want to feel like they are missing out.  It’s easier to dismiss.  When they go to the movies, they go with similar motives to my own:  to locate the experience worth their money.  However, they have felt burned more often and as a result, they are more tuned into that disappointment.  Therefore, they will adamantly voice their rejection of whichever movie they feel to have ripped them off.

On the contrary, there really is such a thing as having more money than sense.  There are people, (some college students, financiers, etc.) in the world who don’t think about or don’t have to think about where their money goes.  They walk out on a movie with greater ease but are less inclined to rant about it later and if they do it’s more as pastime than emotional release.  They reject a movie because it bores them.  It’s harder to keep the attention of someone who has seen everything.  It befits the meaning of passe.

So, the rich aren’t always the best critics either.

Yes, these are generalizations but that just means they are true most of the time.

Being aware of my own critical weakness, I can become stronger.  This is why we need the real critics, to weigh our reflections against theirs and to more objectively understand our subjective inferences.

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Fundraising Update #2

I’ll tell you straight.  Donations have slowed quite a bit.  I’m not sure I’ll get the amount I need in time.

Presently, I am just shy of halfway with $2,750 of $5,250 with fewer than 30 days to go until it is all due.

Thursday is my birthday.  I am hoping to bolster my efforts that day with another Facebook/Twitter campaign.

Check out The Facebook Event

I’ll take gifts of any increments because they all add up and are all appreciated.  Seriously, if every contact I have online gave 2 dollars I’d surpass my goal.

On Paypal use email donna.livingston at . This way we can keep a running tally.

Gifts of $20 = a free, signed copy of Jason Boyett’s Pocket Guide to the Bible.

I am realistic enough to know that it won’t happen exactly that way.   For that reason, I’d like anyone who is willing to share this with their friends online to extend my reach. Give 2 dollars.  Ask your friends to give 1.  Please.

If you can help me in any way, please let me know.

Thank you!

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Tree Hugger’s Lament

I wouldn’t call myself a tree hugger but others do.  I never saw a tree I didn’t like but I’ve never stopped the car along the highway to give an oak a squeeze.  Climbing trees is fun, but I can’t say for sure when I last did that.  I expect all are familiar with the benefits trees offer, though the haters probably ran into one of those hostile trees like in the Wizard of Oz.  It’s understandable.

I was born on Earth Day so perhaps that predisposes me to being mindful of the earth though I never really bought into all that Age of Aquarius hullabaloo.  In fact, I wasn’t that concerned about it at all until a few years ago when I read Serve God, Save the Planet by J. Matthew Sleeth.  I couldn’t ignore what I learned about where our garbage goes and how it impacts our neighborhoods as well as developing nations. So, we started collecting our paper and plastic.

Since that time, we’ve had a series of discussions with family and friends most of whom fail to see the point.  “So, you’re into recycling…”  is spoken as if its a weird hobby.  “Do you get paid for it?”  and “It all goes to the same place” are two we hear often.  Some of our house guests have purposefully defied our simple request and toss empty bottles into the garbage.

Mainly, we have the conversation with Mary.  Every time that we bring the bags of recyclables from the back to the front to carry out, she asks what it is  and then rolls her eyes and says, “Ya’ll have more patience than I do.  I’d just wad it up and throw it away.”  Another round of that chatter took place today.  Donna explained that magazines made from recycled material are much cheaper.  Mary intoned a sort of, “that’s what YOU think…”  The world should know I don’t do things without knowing a bit about them first.

For some, being green is synonymous with hip.  For me, its a matter of personal responsibility.  It’s inconsiderate to throw away what could be reused.

You don’t have to hug trees, but you ought not to go picking fights with ’em either. One day they’ll retaliate…

Further reading: The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

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West Virginia

In 2002, West Virginia was just a place that took Donna from me.  She went there on a mission trip during an uncertain moment in our relationship.  I stayed back and wallowed in melancholy.

Someone on her trip asked, “where are all the black people?”

The past few weeks we’ve been watching Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution which takes place in Huntington, West Virginia.  He was almost universally rejected by every citizen he came into contact with.  Fear of the other seems to run rampant.  However, progress has been made.  Oliver has even established in roads with a local DJ who has been very vocal about his opposition.

This week a mining accident occured in nearby Montcoal.  29 people lost their lives.  The last 4 bodies were discovered early this morning.  We were in Subway when I saw the announcement on TV.

And on the screen was that same radio deejay…from Huntington.

A note on this screen said that this the town that We Are Marshall was based upon.

I remembered October Sky, a true story of a boy in another WV mining town who wanted to be an astronaut.  His was an uphill battle like Oliver’s.  It seemed to the people there and to his family that he was rejecting there way of life.

I thought about how much more there was to this story.

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Fundraising Update

Get Excited! We’re gonna do this!

We are right on schedule to raise the full $5,250 needed to fund my trip.  As I write this, we have gotten $2100.  That’s just $400 short of the $1500 payment due April 8th.

The book giveaway and raffle continue for a few more days until the end of March.  At that point, one lucky person will win 61 books from my library.  These books were carefully selected and are all in new or like new condition.  I am sacrificing personally by offering some of my favorite books, books that I do not have another copy of, books that I hope one day to replace.

Of course, everyone who gives $25 gets the Pocket Guide to the Bible autographed by the author.  It would only take 16 such gifts to reach the next goal!

I just wanted to remind you because I knew there were several of you who wanted in on the offer but had not yet done so.


$10 enters the contest.

$25 enters the contest and gets the signed book.

Go to and use email donna.livingston at


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