When my husband was a little boy

he was watching the news with his parents. The announcement of Roe v. Wade came down. He looked at his mother and said, “If that had been when I was born, I would be dead.”

I grieve for the millions who are dead in the last thirty-five years and for their families who will never have a chance to know them and for the adoptive families who weren’t able to adopt them.

Thank you, University of Oklahoma engineering freshman for not aborting my husband. (Abortions were available when he was born, just not legal.) His boys and I love him very much.

Today is the thirty-fifth anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

New Church

My work on the youth ministry search committee is finished.

Now I am attending a new church. That’s a bit weird. I put off leaving, even though I knew I was leaving, to finish the search committee work. Why?

I thought the search was important. I thought God put me on it for a reason.

But now I am going to the church my husband has been going to for three months now. And this will be my fourth time there. And I will be going to the new members class.

I spent twice as long at this old church as I have spent in most towns I lived in during my lifetime. I am sad to say that I don’t have friends there who will miss me when I am gone, though I do have people there that I love.

I hope it is easier to find friends at my new church than at my old church.

My job on the youth ministry search committee is over.

Let us all breathe a sigh of relief. And, if you are able, sing loud and joyful hosannas.

I’ve learned things about myself that I did not know.

1. I am not willing to let my son grow up in a church that is as conservative as some of the ones I grew up in. I’ve said if they choose the conservative candidate, my son will not be going there. Perhaps I am extreme, but… That’s how I feel.

(The elders here are erring on the side of conservativism for fear of running off the more conservative members, but I think they do not notice that they are running off the progressive ones by doing that.)

2. I talk too much. Both in groups and out of groups.

3. My learned and inherited respect for the office of elder is now a dog-eared book rather than a solid brick.

4. I do not think a leader of a committee should be the gatekeeper. I do not think the leader of a committee is different/better than the rest of the committee.

5. I am more impressed with prayer than with a plan.

There are other things I had re-confirmed for me.

1. I think there is a lot of power in words. I am not as careful as I should be when I choose to speak, though I try to be much more careful when I write. And those who are not careful when they write indicate that they do not understand the power of words.

2. I don’t like committees.

3. Churches are a lot more fun if you don’t know what kind of crap is going on behind the curtain.

4. I don’t agree with everyone.

It’s been a long haul, a hard search. I am glad that, regardless of what happens at the church, that it is over.

Archaeology interest

The Plague: Past, Present, and Future

First Temple Seal found from the Jerusalem Post. There is a picture.

The seal, which was bought in Babylon and dates to 538-445 BCE, portrays a common and popular cultic scene, Mazar said.

The 2.1 x 1.8-cm. elliptical seal is engraved with two bearded priests standing on either side of an incense altar with their hands raised forward in a position of worship.

A crescent moon, the symbol of the chief Babylonian god Sin, appears on the top of the altar.

National Geographic has an article on a rare middle-class tomb from ancient Egypt. The tomb is from about 2500 BC.

Inside the 6.5-foot (2-meter) by 13-foot (4-meter) space, the team found dozens of ceremonial artifacts, including 10 sealed beer jars, more than 80 miniature limestone vessels, a small perfume jug, and plates and cups for symbolic offerings of food and drink.

Also present were four flat-bottomed vessels known as “canopies,” which were used to store internal organs removed during the mummification process.

Beneath the lid of the sarcophagus, the mummy, which was wrapped long before preservation methods were perfected, was badly decomposed.

The body was inlaid with hundreds of Faience beads, and the official’s walking stick, about 6.5 feet (2 meters) long and decorated at the tip with small pieces of gold, was buried at his side.

The sarcophagus also contained a wooden scepter, which Neferinpu would have held in his left hand as sign of his seniority…

These are all things I might use for Dielli.

Praying regularly

Et tu?, a new blog read for me, has started praying three times a day through The Liturgy of the Hours.

I admire her decision and wonder what else I can do to make my prayer life more consistent.

The new Tetris

Well, okay, it’s not Tetris. It’s a geography game. But I’ve been working on it for hours. And having fun. And learning.

Travel IQ Challenge. I’ve played it a lot. My highest score so far is a 114.

Supposedly I can upload this here, but I couldn’t figure out how.

Thanks to Ravenwood’s Universe who introduced the game to me.

Oedipal stories

I teach Oedipus in freshman classes at college. My students never can get how Oedipus could end up married to Jocasta. How about this for a real-life example?

Separated Twins Marry Each Other

Twins separated at birth have married each other without realising they were brother and sister, it has been revealed.

Case has thrown up fertility treatment issues
The British couple’s marriage has now been annulled by the High Court after judges ruled the marriage had never validly existed.

The identities of the brother and sister and details of how they fell in love and married are being kept secret.

Soon after they were born they were separated and adopted by different families.

Neither was told they had a twin and had no idea they were blood relatives until after their wedding.

Pam Hodgkins from Adults Affected by Adoption said: “Incest is one of the strongest taboos in our society. But we are always attracted to a partner who is like us.

“And nobody can be more similar than a biological twin.”


Professor Lord Alton uncovered the case when a High Court judge told him of a hearing he had dealt with.

“They were never told that they were twins,” said Lord Alton. “They met later in life and felt an inevitable attraction.”

Experts say their case reinforces the need for children to have greater rights to know the identity of their parents.

Lord Alton believes the implications for in vitro fertilisation are huge – children conceived in this way can have as many as 10 IVF brothers and sisters.

He warns that new reforms drawn up by ministers could undermine existing rights.

Lord Alton (courtesy davidalton.com)
The changes, now being debated in the House of Lords, would relax rules on who can have fertility treatment and clinics would be unable to bar single women and same sex couples from treatment.

Critics say it will weaken further the link between children and their biological parents – and even effectively end the need for fathers.

“The right for children to know the identity of their biological parents is a human right,” he insisted.

“There will be more cases like this if children are not given access to the truth. The needs of the child must always be paramount.”

from Sky News in the UK

Concealed Handgun License

I took my class yesterday all day long.

I passed my written test with a perfect score.

I passed my shooting test with about a 90%. I was nervous, but there was plenty of time and nothing was moving, so shooting wasn’t too bad. I know I wouldn’t be anywhere near that calm and accurate in a fire fight where I should be moving and the bad guy would be moving and… I hope I never have to get in a gun battle or use my gun against another person.

At Front Sight I was supposed to shoot a paper target that had just a head showing and my oldest son was in front of it (on paper). I killed my son’s target with a perfect shot to the head. And that was with both of us standing still and not really being my son and….

God, please keep me and my family safe.

Blogging Dielli

I went back through my blog looking for things that I noted for Dielli and my book. I have 31 pages worth of notes (single-spaced) on my blog. It was good to go through them all again and get them in my head, keeping them fresh.

I wrote a short story last month. I want to work on this.

If I could do something and not fail, it would be write and get published/be read.

Free market gun control

Citi Merchant… has decided not to “process credit card transactions between firearms retailers, distributors, and manufacturers.”

See the press release from National Shooting Sports Foundation.

Do we have a Citibank card we can close the account on?

Say Uncle has comments on this. One says:

Oh, BTW. Watch how you handle Citi and closing accounts with them. They are very shifty about keeping cards open even after you ask. Send a letter via certified mail asking that they shut the card down and be sure to have the card number and the Citi account number in that letter. They might be different and they won’t act unless you are very, very clear. I got dunned for $365 on a card that I closed with them for fees and had to settle (which shows on the old credit report). If you like your credit, be very careful with Citi.


Pages read 2008: Day 8, 9

Another 2750 pages read in romance novels for a total of 9554. Then three more… 750+9554=10,304

And another 57 days’ posts from various internet blogs. Total: 246

And 100 pages of science fiction. Total:1352

Liars who are friends. Imagine that.

Blogburst blockbuster: Professor who white-washed the Crescent of Embrace was Paul Murdoch’s classmate at UCLA

An excerpt from the Park Service investigation into the Flight 93 memorial identifies one of their consultants as a scholar from MIT who “wishes to remain anonymous.” Another document identifies this person as a religious scholar or a professor of Islamic architecture. MIT does not have a religion department, and they only have one professor of Islamic architecture: Professor Nassar Rabbat, who has confirmed that he is the Park Service consultant.

A check of Rabbat’s background shows that he was a classmate of Paul Murdoch, both getting masters degrees in architecture from UCLA in 1984 and both doing their masters work on Middle Easter subjects. Murdoch wrote a “masters project” titled: “A museum for Haifa, Israel.” Rabbat did a masters thesis titled: “House-form, climactic response and lifestyle: a study of the 17-19th century courthouse houses in Cairo and Damascus.”

This connection between Murdoch and Rabbat raises the possibility that Murdoch himself orchestrated the Park Service investigation into warnings about his own design. Rabbat denies knowing Murdoch, but given the blatant dishonesty of what he told the Park Service, that denial cannot be trusted.

Rabbat lied about something that every practicing Muslim knows

Rabbat’s first “major talking point” (from the Memorial Project’s White Paper, towards the bottom) is a blatantly dishonest excuse for why the Park Service should not be concerned about the almost exact Mecca orientation of the Crescent of Embrace. A crescent that Muslims face into to face Mecca is called a mihrab and is the central feature around which every mosque is built. Rabbat assures the Park Service that because the Mecca orientation of the Crescent of Embrace is inexact, it can’t be seen as a mihrab:

Mihrab orientation is either correct or not. It cannot be off by some degrees.

Absolutely false, and Rabbat certainly knows it. This goes to the most basic principle of mosque design: that all mosques are expressions of Muhammad’s prototype.

Muhammad’s original mosque in Medina was not oriented precisely on Mecca. It was built to face Jerusalem. Later in his career Muhammad changed the direction that Muslims were to face for prayer (their qibla direction). Instead of facing north from Medina to Jerusalem they were to face south, towards Mecca (Koran 2.142-145). To effect this change, Muhammad just started using the southerly wall of his mosque as his “qibla wall” instead of the northerly wall, even though this wall had not been built to face Mecca.

In the abstract, Muhammad held the qibla direction from Medina to be “south.” But Mecca is not quite due south from Medina either. Thus both in practice and in the abstract, Muhammad was not particular about an exact orientation on Mecca, and in Islam, what is good enough for Muhammad has to be good enough for everyone. He is the model.

This leeway to face only roughly towards Mecca for prayer is not some obscure bit of doctrine. Every practicing Muslim knows that qibla orientation does not have to be exact because they all have to avail themselves of this allowance pretty much every day as they seek walls that are oriented not too far off of Mecca which they can face into for their frequent prayers.

Rabbat just flat out lied about something that every practicing Muslim knows, and this is an expert in Mosque design. He knows better than anyone the historic leeway afforded in Mecca orientation.

Is Rabbat the source of Patrick White’s foolishness?

Rabbat’s dishonest report to the Park Service may explain an amazing argument made by Patrick White, Vice President of Families of Flight 93. At the July 2007 public meeting of the Memorial Project, White argued in a private conversation that the almost exact Mecca-orientation of the giant crescent cannot be intended as a tribute to Islam because the inexactness of it would be “disrespectful to Islam.”

At the same time as White was privately making excuses for the almost exact Mecca orientation of the crescent, he was telling the newspapers that the Mecca orientation claim was false and preposterous, so he certainly cannot be absolved. But it is possible that he himself was misled about how Muslims would regard an inexactly oriented mihrab.

The Memorial Project received Rabbat’s comments about a year earlier, and Patrick White certainly had access to them. It seems likely that when White said that an inexact orientation on Mecca would be “disrespectful to Islam,” he was following Rabbat’s “can’t be off” lead.

The crescent design also includes an exact Mecca orientation

If Nassar Rabbat actually read the information that Alec Rawls sent to the Memorial Project, he would know that in addition to the physical crescent, the Crescent of Embrace design also includes a thematic crescent, defined by architect Paul Murdoch himself. The upper tip of this thematic crescent is the point where, in Murdoch’s explanation, the flight path breaks the circle. If this thematic or “true” upper crescent tip is used to define the orientation of the crescent, then the crescent points exactly to Mecca.

If Rabbat really thinks that exactness is what matters, he would have been alarmed to see that this thematic crescent is oriented exactly on Mecca. Instead, he ignored it.

The Park Service already knew about the Mecca orientation of the crescent

The Park Service’s other Islamic scholar, Kevin Jaques, did the same thing as Rabbat. He admitted the similarity between the giant Mecca oriented crescent and a traditional Islamic mihrab, then concocted a blatantly dishonest excuse for why the Park Service shouldn’t be concerned about it. Jaques assured the Park Service that there was no reason to worry because no one had ever seen a mihrab this big before:

Thirdly, most mihrabs are small, rarely larger than the figure of a man, although some of the more ornamental ones can be larger, but nothing as large at the crescent found in the site design. It is unlikely that most Muslims would walk into the area of the circle/crescent and see a mihrab because it is well beyond their limit of experience. Again, just because it is similar does not make it the same.

If Jaques and Rabbat were willing to engage in such blatantly dishonest excuse-making, why did they start out by admitting that the giant crescent was geometrically close to a perfect mihrab? Because the Park Service already knew that the giant crescent was oriented almost exactly on Mecca, and that a crescent that Muslims face into to face Mecca is the central feature around which every mosque is built.

Advisory Commission member Tim Baird would admit this explicitly in 2007, but it was obvious much earlier. What the Park Service wanted when it conducted its internal investigation in the spring and summer of 2006 was excuses not to be concerned about these damning facts, and that is what Jaques and Rabbat provided. Similarly for the egregious Daniel Griffith, the “professor of geospatial information,” who told the newspapers that “anything can point to Mecca, because the earth is round.”

The Park Service knew this was all fraudulent. Griffith’s “anything can point to Mecca” and Rabbat’s “it has to be exact” were complete contradictions of each other, but the Park Service gladly embraced both as excuses to pretend that there was nothing to worry about.

If these government functionaries were this desperate for a cover up, it is certainly plausible that they would accept any help they could get from Paul Murdoch. Not that it is hard to find radically dishonest, America-hating academics, but these three frauds are outliers even by worst standards.

More dishonest excuse-making from Rabbat

Rabbat’s next talking point is more of the same dishonest excuse-making:

Besides, in the US, a debate has been going on as to which is the right Mecca orientation: the one going through the North Pole or the one that follows a flat representation of the globe.

The orientation “through the North Pole” (55.2° clockwise from north, to be precise) is the great-circle direction to Mecca. This great circle direction to Mecca is the orientation of the Crescent of Embrace (almost exactly), and it is the direction in which almost all Muslims pray.

A few dissenters pray in the rhumb-line direction to Mecca (the direction of constant compass heading, which spirals down the globe in an east-southeasterly direction from North America). Rabbat pretends that the existence of these few dissenters somehow makes the whole matter of the Mecca oriented crescent a non-issue.

If anything, the debate over qibla direction shows the flexibility of the qibla direction, giving the lie to Rabbat’s earlier assertion that mihrab orientation “can’t be off.”

Rabbat certainly knows that the great-circle direction to Mecca is the dominant qibla direction. (It won out over the rhumb line direction for the very good reason that a person facing in the rhumb-line direction to Mecca is not actually facing Mecca, since the rhumb-line follows a curved path.) But don’t worry about a little thing like the crescent facing in the dominant qibla direction. Rabbat has plenty of lame excuses why you don’t need to care.

Tom Burnett’s call for a Congressional investigation

The Park Service won’t say how they came up with Griffith, Jaques and Rabbat so we have to force them. A lot of People must be forced to answer these and a lot of other hard questions, and the only way to do it is to heed Tom Burnett’s call for a Congressional Investigation.

Youth minister candidate 1

This was my personal favorite. When I asked him about what he would say to an atheist and explained about my son, he immediately stopped and prayed for him. He also has the most experience of any of our candidates.

My husband didn’t think he was a fit with the church after meeting him at supper on Friday.

One of our elders got up in church and said he needed to lose weight, while he was sitting in the audience. (That was NOT acceptable in my opinion.)

We’ve gotten about ten feedbacks so far and they are overwhelmingly positive. The only negatives mentioned were that he needs to lose weight (wonder where they got that idea?) and that someone wasn’t sure he would mesh with the ministry team.

On the weight, yes, he probably does need to lose weight. But he looked much slimmer on Friday morning in khakis and a golf shirt than he did on Sunday morning in a huge suit coat. I think he’s not as overweight as he looked on Sunday.

Maybe my church wants a perfect candidate. (Sure, why not?) But I don’t think there is one.

I really like this candidate, but I almost felt that I should warn him off from all the negatives at our church.

Pains you shouldn’t ignore

Web MD has an article on the 7 pains you shouldn’t ignore. I have had the first four without it having been the extreme things it might have been. And the last… yeah, I’ve had the last. And must I remind you that just because a doctor doesn’t know what is causing the pain, it doesn’t mean there isn’t something causing the pain? (See this post for my articulate and particular argument on that subject. [And I spent 30 minutes looking for it because I thought it was worth it.])

Very cute, fun book

The Prodigal Valentine by Karen Templeton has a main character who is hyper and talks a mile a minute and goes jumping around and is just gosh darn fun.

I liked the book a lot.

245 pages