Miss Woodhouse's Musings

…about life, the universe, and everything. Don't panic!

Enraptured

“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” Matthew 24:36

There’s a lot of talk about the world ending tomorrow.

This annoys me. Not that I’m not all for the Rapture and all; there are days where my mind constantly echoes John’s cry of “Even so, come Lord Jesus.” However, really people? Do you think that you, and YOU ONLY, have discovered the date of the one event that will change the entire world forever?

Because, let’s face it. Wars affect some people, earthquakes affect others. Some people are influenced by a wedding, some by the fall of a dictator. But nothing, NOTHING, will change the world like the Rapture, the Second Coming, Christ returning to earth. For some it will be amazing, for others it will be terrifying, and I hope and pray that you all are not in the “terrifying” category.

Here’s the thing though. Only God knows when this is all going to take place. In an amazing metaphysical conundrum, even Christ (though fully God and fully man) does not know when He is going to return to earth. Did you all hear that? Christ does not know the date of something that completely centers around His participation! I mean, wow. That’s one tightly guarded secret.

So what makes anyone think that God would reveal to *them* this precious date? The God I know, He doesn’t play games. He doesn’t say in His Word that no one knows something, and then drop broad hints or whisper it in the ear of a man. He doesn’t mess with us like that. He knows the date and time, and that’s enough. We don’t need to know. Let’s face cold, hard reality: we don’t want to know.

Think about how pointless life would feel if we knew the date and time. Think of how apathetic and scared we would become. I mean, all this May 21st stuff is merely conjecture and people are losing it; what if we knew it was 100% real? No. No no no. Bad idea. God knew that it was best for us not to know, so we don’t know. Oh, and remember, Christ doesn’t know, so He’s not going to be providing hints to us either. God told us all we need to know about the end times in Revelation. Quite honestly, that gives me enough fodder to keep my mind occupied…I don’t need to know EXACTLY when it will all kick off.

Let’s stop worrying about the end of the world. Let’s just worry about today. How are we acting? What are we doing? Are we making our lives count? Are we doing things that matter?

Live for today…let tomorrow take care of itself.

The Second Coming

William Butler Yeats

 Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

    Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

    The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

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Ballads

It’s finals week! Yay because that means Fall Break is literally right around the corner, and Boo because that means I’m knocking myself out with studying this week. This is the first quarter EVER that I’ve not had a major paper due. It feels weird. It’s also the first time I’ve had a 100 question closed book final. Yikes!

Because I’ve been slammed, I haven’t had much time for blogging. So, I’m just going to steal a post from my teaching blog since it was pretty interesting (if I do say so myself). We were studying ballads; specifically the criterion for a traditional ballad.

Ballads were the poetry of the common people. “Serious” poetry was composed in French or Italian. Ballads were the way for the commoners to record their stories, history, thoughts, and ideas. Since they were not able to write down their stories, it only made sense to put those words to music so they wouldn’t be forgotten. The best ballads are of Scottish and/or Irish descent, and they mimic the highbrow poetry of the time.

In the 1970s, ballads and ballad form returned to music with the help of such groups as Simon and Garfunkel. For example, here is a classic example of a Scottish ballad that is still commonly played today:
So, that is what a classic ballad would have sounded like…what about today? “Hey Jude” is an awesome example of a modern ballad. While you listen, think about our six criterion for evaluating ballads:
1. Impersonal (Who is talking? Is Jude the speaker?)
2. Concentrated (Does it limit itself to one storyline?)
3. Dramatic (Is there conflict implied?)
4. Ironic (Is there a twist in the song?)
5. Incantory (Do the lyrics repeat?)
6. Simple (Is the verse structure uncomplicated?)

Can you think of any other modern ballads that fit the old-fashioned criterion? Leave them in the comments!

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The Extra Mile

Every Starbucks has at least one person like her. She says she’s homeless, she tells us that she lives with her goddaughters. She comes in to the store while she waits for the bus. The situation is enough to touch your heartstrings.

Until you are around for a while. Then, you begin to see a few disturbing things. She begs customers for money (something that we must forbid on Starbucks property, and she has been told many times that soliciting customers for money is not allowed). Then, she comes up to the registers and asks us for free pastries and free coffee. Not just asks, but begs. Then, she takes the money she begged from the customers (for coffee) and takes it to buy cigarettes and lottery tickets. I’m not in any position to judge her life, but it is off-putting and disturbing to people who don’t like seeing their niceness used for a different purpose than they intended.

We really, really want to help her. Deep down, we all want to be generous. Unfortunately, it’s one of those situations where if you do one nice thing, then she expects more and more and more and more.

We haven’t seen her in a while, but the other day she came back. Instantly, she started in on us. First, she targeted me (she is good at figuring out who is the newest and least experienced). I’ve no authority to give out free merchandise, so I passed it off to my shift.

I’m a coward, I know.

My shift is a wonderful, soft-hearted, giving person. However, she knows the history and trends even better than I. She offered to look in our donation bin for some nice pastries, but that was all she could really do. My shift returned with several slices of coffee cake from the night before, neatly wrapped up.

The woman thanked her profusely, and went to sit down in a comfy chair. Coincidently, this chair was next to the table of the only other person sitting in the cafe. He’s a regular, and we figured he was safe from her begging seeing as how he was deeply embroiled in a cellphone conversation.

Within 5 seconds, the woman called across the cafe to my shift, asking for a plate and fork. My dear shift grabbed the requested items, and took them across the cafe to her.

Less than 20 seconds later, the man at the table gets up and comes to the counter, still on his cellphone. He usually comes in with a woman, so we assume that he’s getting ready to order her drink. He stares at the board for a minute, obviously perusing his options. Then, he orders a grande latte.

As any good barista should do, my shift asked if he wanted any flavouring in it. He shrugged at us, gave a little smile, and quietly said that he was getting for the woman in the chair.

My shift and I weren’t quite sure how to react. On one hand, it was really sweet of this guy to buy her a drink. On the other hand, 20 seconds to get a guy on a cellphone to buy her a pricey drink had to be a new record. We look at each other for a moment, and then shrug. My shift gets the milk steaming. I go back to mopping the floors. The customer looks at me, and holds out a $5 bill.

Here’s where I make my decision: if the customer wants to be nice, I’ll let him be nice. However, I’m not going to charge him for the drink. I smile at him and shake my head; I’d take care of it later when I got my food for my 30. He smiles back, then frowns a little. He continues to stand there.

I go back to scrubbing mats. My shift finishes the drink, and hands it to him. He once again tries to pay, but she tells him “no” as well.

Sweet man, he honestly wouldn’t take our no as an answer. He stood there insisting on paying until we rung him up. Then, he patiently fixed her drink up with sugar according to her specifications. Specifications, I might add, that she yelled at him from across the cafe. He even came back up a minute later to get her a spoon because she wanted one to “drink” her latte.

She left a little while later, leaving her plate, spoon, fork, and empty cup littered around the cafe. I never did hear her thank him for his care and consideration.

However, it blew me away. It was a sweet gesture, done quietly and without show. Not only did he reach out to this woman, but he did more than the minimum required by the situation. He could have gotten a tall; he bought a grande. He could have gotten plain coffee; he bought her first latte ever. He could have accepted our refusal to let him pay; but he paid anyway. He totally amazed me that day.

Our customers are, hands down, the best in the world.

I wish I could be more like that at work. I wish that I didn’t have to filter situations through a more jaded screen. I have no problem doing “x”, but I know that should I do “x”, next time there will be a loud demand for “x+y”. The next time, “x+y+z”, and so it goes.

But this one man, he’s not there enough to risk seeing her again for a long time. He reached out and touched her life that day, and I can only hope and pray that it made a difference to her.

It certainly had an impact on me.

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Rollout

On Tuesday, Starbucks rolled out a bunch of new teas and new healthy food. This was my first time working a rollout day, and I noticed some interesting things.

We do sometimes get send foods in advance to test out so we can tell our customers about them. However, we are not sent everything. Sometimes, we don’t even get the food for the customers to buy on rollout day. Here we are with this huge poster of our new sandwiches, and the warehouse forgot to bring us our order. Really, they did. It was a little embarrassing to tell customers “no, we don’t have the new food. No, it didn’t sell out by 8 am, we never got in the shipment. No, there was nothing we could do to prevent this from happening.” The day was sporting in that respect!

Here’s a good one- did you know that the new tea sachets are made of nylon? Neither did I, but when a customer asked the question of us, I spent 20 minutes on the phone with Tazo tracking down the answer. The Tazo people are really nice though, so if you ever have tea questions don’t hesitate to call the number on the back of your box.

Rooibos is the most difficult tea name for customers to pronounce. We get “roo-i-bos”, “roo-bos”, “roo-boss”, and a plethora of other variations. I don’t blame them- it’s a confusing little word. For what it’s worth, the proper pronunciation is “roy-bus”. Yup, roy-bus. I told you I don’t blame people who can’t get it on their own!

Lucy’s cookies, though in Starbucks across the nation, are from right here in Hampton Roads. Check out the Virginian-Pilot article here. I love cool stories like this- and yes, the cookies are super yummy! We can be proud to call this a local company.

I, personally, am addicted to the glazed cashews with pomegranate and vanilla- and I don’t even like cashews that much. They are just the right blend of sweet and salty, with a little bit of sticky thrown in. By the end of the first day I got a few customers as hooked on them as I am!

The new rewards program is still confusing, but 13 more stars and I’m at the gold level. For what it’s worth, the little cup with the stars on “your Starbucks account” is as addictive to click on as that Poke the Penguin game. The stars just keep jumping around, but they are so cute! I also just got a coupon for a free oatmeal, which will be nice during my morning shift next week.

I know this is a bit of a random post today but it was a random Starbucks week, so it all works out in the end. Have a good week, and happy coffee and tea drinking!

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Digging Up the Past

*Disclaimer: My use of the word “Archaeology” in this post pertains solely to the methods used in the Middle-East and parts of Africa. I have no experience with more “modern” or “American” archaeology locations and techniques, so I will not pretend that I do. Enjoy the post! Miss Woodhouse*

I have an active interesting in archaeology. If you don’t believe me, then just looking at the archaeology books on my shelf, the National Geographic and Archaeology Today magazines scattered around my room, and the dirt on my hands. Okay, I’m kidding about the last one, but the other two are true. There’s just something about digging into the past that fascinates me.

Last spring I took a Biblical Archaeology class at university, and tonight I pulled out my books to reference them for another class. Specifically, I’ve been studying whether archaeology disproves the Bible, or if it confirms the Bible’s veracity. One of the most interesting books I’ve read on this subject is titled “What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It? What archaeology can tell us the reality of ancient Israel”. Snappy title, I know.

The author is a long-time archaeologist named William Dever. After devoting his whole life to digging up the past, Dever uses this book to present his arguments against deconstructionists who say that the study of history is irrelevant in today’s postmodern world. They even go so far as to say that the field of archaeology is pointless and should have been abandoned decades ago.

Put yourself for a moment in Dever’s place. Here he is, getting on in years, spending most of his life digging up the past and now some upstart, pseudo-erudite scholars want to tell him that his work is meaningless, pointless, and obsolete. For most of you, dear readers, your contact with archaeology stems mainly from Indiana Jones and Amelia Peabody. Modern archaeology is nothing like the action-packed adventures of these characters. Basically, you spend months findings sponsors to pay for your expenses and crew. Then, you spend a few months in the relentless sun, systematically digging through an endless sandbox with little more than a toothbrush and tweezers, hoping to find something worthwhile. Maybe you will find an old mosaic, or the corner of a house. Mostly though, you will find little but garbage and potsherds, so you will try to pick up any contextual clues you can from these objects in order to gain more support for your next season.

I can’t fully wrap my mind around how frustrating it must be.

So, at this point you may be wondering what importance archaeology can have in our lives. Good question! Well, first there’s the old saying that those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it. By conducting archaeological excavations, we can learn and understand the history of an area. Sometimes the lessons are cultural- for example finding out that a city turned into a ghost town because the government was overthrown. Other times, archaeologists find clues to the history of the land that will make a difference in how we develop it in modern times. For example, if an excavation finds a civilization buried suddenly in mud, then we can surmise that the area was prone to sudden mudslides, and still may be unstable.

Biblically, archaeology provides some of the most compelling outside evidence that the Bible is real. We read about how the wall of Jericho fell inward by the power of God. Then, we find archaeological evidence of a city called Jericho whose walls fell inward. Given this information, archaeologists can make a correlation between the evidence and the accounts and conclude that the Biblical account is accurate. When we find seals, cartouches, and engravings that speak of people and events we read about in the historical books of the Bible, we can conclude that the events written there are true and accurate. In fact, Dever ultimately claims that archaeology can and does prove the veracity of the Bible. He believes that the details contained in the ancient scrolls and confirmed by archaeological discoveries are much too precise to be made up. Therefore, archaeology confirms the Bible and by doing so confirms the validity of our faith.

Just think- all of that meaning from a clump of dirt and sand!

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Off The Grid

I know that this post is bit out of the norm for me, but may I rant for just a little moment? The other night I was listening to NPR (a mistake, perhaps, but I’m not perfect). I’m not sure what program I was listening to- I didn’t leave it on long enough to find out.

The program was a young man and his family talking about how difficult their lives were. All well and good; I’m sympathetic to a sad story. The young man was telling about how he couldn’t get into the prestigious college he wanted to attend, and how he couldn’t get financial aid for the few schools he was able to get into. His mother discussed the difficulty she had in her job- finding her place, getting promotions, etc. What horrible twist of fate could be preventing these poor people from realizing their American dream?

Well, they are undocumented.

Wait a moment. Let that sink in.

….

….

Undocumented.

They are not supposed to be in this country. There is no paper trail. They are not American citizens. They are not citizens of this country. For years they have avoided our government’s notice.

Now, they are on national radio talking about how difficult their life is because of their undocumentation.

Really.

Hmmm.

Why are we fighting for the rights of people who never declared their citizenship? More importantly, what right do these people have to complain that our universities ask for green cards, or that our government won’t allow them to receive free money without proof of residency or citizenship? Why are we expected to change the rules to make their lives easier, their jobs more pleasurable?

Would any other government stand for this behaviour? If I surreptitiously sneak into England, would they allow me into any college and then give me money to attend? I’m thinking not.

Why, then, is anyone promoting the idea that no matter who waltzes into the country we will hand them an education and pay for it as well.

Or maybe, why not? We are trying to give them free health care, benefits, basically anything they could ever wish for- whether we know they are here or not. Who pays for this? The people who are residents of this country; the people who by family lineage, birth right, or naturalization have earned the right to live in America. Those people who work hard in order to pay taxes left, right, and center for education, benefits, cars, and houses.

I’m not normally a “rah-rah, go America” type of person, and this post really isn’t about American citizenship per se. It’s about the nature of citizenship itself. We need clear definitions of where we belong geographically to keep order in this world. I’m sure that there is a wonderful reason for citizenship to even exist- for some reason (or maybe many reasons), it wouldn’t be good for people not to belong to a country. However, the media attention undocumented people are receiving lately makes me wonder if life would be easier if we all just went off the grid.

Oh yes, that’s right.

It’s a bad idea.

It would limit my choice of colleges.

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Rambling On

I was reading excerpts of Samuel Johnson’s Rambler tonight for school, so I thought I’d pass on some thought-provoking quotes. I’ve totally undervalued Johnson’s writing out of ignorance- this must change! He’s really an interesting person.

On Fiction:

It is justly considered as the greatest excellency of art, to imitate nature; but it is necessary to distinguish those parts of nature, which are most proper for imitation; greater care is still required in representing life…” In other words, we can’t just imitate something because it is there. We should be careful to evaluate what we are copying.

Vice, for vice is necessary to be shown, should always disgust; nor should the graces of gaiety, or the dignity of courage, be so united with it, as to reconcile it to the mind.” This is really good. Fiction is good way to teach the evils of vices, as long as we don’t make it look so appealing in the process that the lines between good and evil are blurred.

Hollywood, by the way, apparently doesn’t read Johnson either.

Moving on….

On Spring:

We solace ourselves with some new prospect, and press forward again with equal eagerness.” Oh, I really love this quote! What a wonderful way to think about spring, as a fresh start for both the world and for ourselves.

It may be laid down as a position that will seldom deceive, that when a man cannot bear his own company there is something wrong.” This is the 18th century version of an insult upon mankind. What a great comment! Basically, if you can’t just sit back and enjoy everything that’s happening around you, then something is amazingly awry in your life.

So there you have it!

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Wipeout

No one has ever mentioned how up to date with the news this blog is. Oh, yeah. That’s because it isn’t!

I love talking about current events, but sometimes it takes a while for my brain to fully process them to the point where I can write out something halfway logical. This particular topic has been on my mind for almost a month now- it is time to write out my thoughts.

Have you ever thought about being on a reality TV show? I have; I’m not going to lie. I’ve always wondered if I’d make it at all.

Could I sing my heart out? Stay on the island? Avoid being fired? Renovate a home? Make it over four, red, overinflated, giant balls without falling into the surrounding water?

A man last month wasn’t able to find out if he could do that last task. He was all ready to compete on the ABC water sensation “Wipeout”; he went through the vetting process, medical checkups, and prize eligibility screening. He was all set to push himself to the physical limit in hopes of winning money.

He never got the chance. Within moments of starting his run, knee pain stopped him. A few hours later, he was dead. The best I know at this point is that the unusual activity triggered a dormant condition rare enough to be missed in the health screening process.

He was very young. He was very much a newly-wed.

I’m not criticizing him for wanting to enter the competition. After all, hundreds of people have entered and been just fine. But I can’t help but wonder, was it worth it? If we could talk to him right now, would he tell us that was the way he wanted to go, with a splash? (Sorry, bad pun.) If he knew it would kill him, would the competition have been so important?

We all chase after goals and dreams. Some are good, some are necessary, and some we do just to make things interesting. Some of them will help us, some will further us, and some will kill us. When we see someone do something without consequences, we tend to jump in ourselves, not considering that the effect on us may be different.

Proverbs 12:14 warns us “there is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (NASB). Let us be careful to not get so caught up in the flash and excitement of events that we forget to see whether what we want to do is God’s will for our lives.

Again, I’m not saying that this man was thoughtless or foolish to do what he did- obviously that was the course his life was to take. But it seems a waste, and it is heartbreaking. We should be aware to not run off and follow the crowd, the prizes, or the goals. Instead, seek God. Let Him direct your path so that when you leave this earth, you die on His terms, and not because of the ways of man.

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