Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Guest Blogger: Jenny

by Jenny

My human slave has grossly overstepped her boundaries and dared to bathe me. I do not intend to forgive her, perhaps for a very long time.

It is not my fault that "stuff" got stuck in my "fluff" in the panties region. I am a long-haired cat. Such things, annoyingly, happen.

If my uppity human slave had not intervened, I would have taken care of the problem. She has no concept of how cats must cope. She is essentially hairless and has such innovations as a commode and toilet tissue. Truly, she has no clue what is entailed in having to deal with permanent long-haired panties, clay bits in a box for a toilet, and being no more than one foot off the floor except when jumping or hanging out in high places.

She places more value on keeping her furniture and belongings free of "cat stuff" than she does on my autonomy and self-bathing. It is intolerable.

Yes, I am outraged at my human slave. Were you in my place, you would be too.

Never mind that my panties region is "stuff-free" now. I'd have got around to it eventually.

*#%^&@$+! human.

P!$$3d off,

Saturday, April 12, 2008

I knew better...

Yes, I did.

But I did it anyway. I really had no choice.

I will spare you the worst of the mental image. Suffice it to say that my sweet fluff girl Jenny, who is pure white with long silky hair and two different colored eyes (gold and copper), let some *stuff* get stuck in her *fluff*, around her luxuriant "panties." It had apparently been there since early this morning, and was thus dry. It was NOT pretty.

So I did what any good cat mama would do: First, I cut off a bunch of the "stuff," resulting in a significant loss of "panties" fur. Then, I put some gentle shampoo in some nice warm water in the bathroom sink, and I gently carried my darling in there, and I scruffed her neck just so, and I soaked and eased the nastiness from her fur.

Now, I must say, my darling girl was very good. Though she throatily cried bloody murder, she only lashed out once (at least once that she actually connected), and gave me only the smallest of scratches (through my shirt!) on my upper arm, near my armpit. I guess she thought turn-about was fair play. And she even stayed put while I ran more nice warm water to rinse her off.

But alas! My sweet girl escaped while I was toweling her dry. I now have wet cat foot- and body-prints all over the apartment. She hisses and growls and aims sharp scratches at me and will not let me near her. I can't say as I blame her. (NOTE: Image is not Jenny, but embodies her attitude about being bathed by her human slave quite well.)

But she *does* have nice clean "panties" now. I can stand to look at her from the back, which is good, because she keeps turning her back on me. Cats are like that.

I would not be surprised if she gives you her side of the story sometime soon. Like the "stuff" in the "panties fluff," I'm sure it will not be pretty, either.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

The "Winnie the Pooh" Quiz

Your Score: Rabbit

You scored 15 Ego, 15 Anxiety, and 15 Agency!

IT was going to be one of Rabbit's busy days. As soon as he woke up he felt important, as if everything depended upon him. It was just the day for Organizing Something, or for Writing a Notice Signed Rabbit, or for Seeing What Everybody Else Thought About It. It was a perfect morning for hurrying round to Pooh, and saying, "Very well, then, I'll tell Piglet," and then going to Piglet, and saying, "Pooh thinks--but perhaps I'd better see Owl first." It was a Captainish sort of day, when everybody said, "Yes, Rabbit " and "No, Rabbit," and waited until he had told them.

You scored as Rabbit!

ABOUT RABBIT: Rabbit is generally considered Clever by his many friends and relations. He is actually a much better reader and writer than Owl, but he doesn't consider it worth mentioning. Instead, Rabbit's real talent lies in Organizing Plans. He organizes rescue parties, makes schemes to reduce Tigger's bounciness, and goes on missions to find out what Christopher Robin does when he's not at the Hundred Acre Woods. Sometimes, however, his Plans do not always go as Planned.

WHAT THIS SAYS ABOUT YOU: You are smart, practical and you plan ahead. People sometimes think that you don't stress or worry, but this is not the case. You are the kind of person who worries in a practical way. You think a) What are my anxieties about and b)what can be done about them? No useless fretting for you. You don't see the point in sitting around and waiting for things to work out, when you could actually work them out today and save yourself a lot of time and worry. Your friends tend to rely on you, because they know that they can trust you help them work things out.

You sometimes tend to be impatient with people who are less practical in their ways. You don't have much patience for idiots who moan about things but never actually DO anything about them. You have high expectations of everyone, including yourself. When you don't succeed at something, or when something goes wrong despite your best efforts to prevent it, you can get quite hard on yourself. You need to cut yourself some slack and accept that everyone has their faults, even you, and THAT IS OKAY. Let yourself be faulty, every now and then, for the sake of your own sanity.

Link: The Deep and Meaningful Winnie-The-Pooh Character Test written by wolfcaroling on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Cheap "Grace" and "Forgiveness"

Every so often I come across the idea--written, spoken, and expressed attitude--that grace is a duty and forgiveness can be demanded. I've been thinking a lot about both lately, and here's what has yet again been made clear to me through the Scriptures and my own considerable efforts to put them into practice.

First of all, grace is a gift. It originates from God and, apart from a vital relationship with God, is not a "natural" part of human living. We're too selfish, left to our own devices, to offer one another much grace. Grace is a lavish, wholehearted, selfless showering of godly love upon undeserving fellow sinners. It's neither ours to demand nor even expect. If it were, it would not be grace.

Forgiveness is one expression of grace. Similarly, it is a deliberate and wholehearted decision, specifically not to be bound by or to another's sin against us. If we have sinned against another, we have no right to demand that he or she forgive us.

Christians too often cheapen both grace and forgiveness. The "demand" for forgiveness cheapens the cost of sin; it glosses over the effect our sin has upon the other and seeks to absolve us of any responsibility for repentance and reconciliation. It short-circuits the restoration of true Christian community when we, the sinner, insist that the one we sinned against owes us his or her forgiveness. Which of us would dare to tell Jesus, "You HAD to forgive me; that was your duty"? None, I do hope! Yet there are Christians who stand firm in their unrepentant sin and loudly demand that those they've wronged, forgive them. No amends, no repentance, just ongoing sin--and the demand that it be forgiven because it's their Christian duty to forgive those who have sinned against them.

To me, that sounds an awful lot like the argument Paul refuted to the Roman churches (Rom. 6), that somehow they thought it was good to sin so that more grace would abound. No; instead, Paul showed that sin damages both the sinner and the body--the community, and it grieves the Lord who gave his life that we might no longer be slaves to sin. We ought to be outdoing one another in dying to our sins, not continuing in them even while demanding that those we sin against forgive us!

Grace is cheapened when it is expected. Forgiveness is reduced to a poor imitation when it is formulized and demanded. The sinner should deal with his or her own sin, with God's help, rather than meddling in the alleged lack of grace or unforgiveness of others. Each of us has plenty of sin to keep us busy repenting. We do not need another's forgiveness or grace in order to stop sinning and repent (turn another way) from it. We DO need to pay close attention to the leading of the Holy Spirit on what we ourselves can do to restore relationships broken by our own sin. And as mature Christians, we have a bitter lesson to learn: there are some relationships that may remain broken in this life. That can be a consequence of our sins against others. If we have consistently and unrepentantly torn into a brother or sister, he or she may not be able to trust us. It's going to take a lot of work on our part to become trustworthy, and we only prove our untrustworthiness when we demand "forgiveness" from him or her when we haven't even bothered to express regret or remorse for our sin, or stopped engaging in it in the first place.

The sham of blithe "I forgive you" statements TO people WE'VE sinned against, is especially cheap. When someone shows us that we've sinned against them, we ought to take that very seriously and stop doing it! If we're arrogant and proud in our continued sin against them, they are hardly sinning against us to tell us so. That pride in our sin is, itself, more sin on OUR part, not theirs. And even if they're not completely innocent in terms of sinning against us, we can only control our own behavior, not theirs. Claiming we're forgiving THEM, especially if we throw in a habitual insult in the statement, without ANY evidence of our own repentance, is meaningless. The most it could possibly do is deceive us into thinking we're without sin.

The other person's forgiveness of us, or lack of it, should have no bearing on our repentance. We ought to have repented and sought forgiveness long before they can even offer it. If our sin was unintentional, it's still ours to own and deal with once it's been shown to us. We who were bought at the price of the Lord Jesus Christ's death, can ill afford to deny the sins we commit against others. They may forgive us, but we're still dead in that sin if we deny we even committed it! The forgiveness frees the one we sinned against; we're choosing to live outside that forgiveness. It's no wonder that the self-righteous strive for outward perfection; "whitewashed tombs" was Jesus' description of such denial of sin.

Forgiveness demanded is the height of self-righteous delusion. A truly repentant person acknowledges that he or she has no right to expect any such thing. And in the upside-down paradox of God's economy, it is the truly repentant person who finds true forgiveness and grace, from God, if not always from others he or she has sinned against. One thing is certain, however: The one who insists on another's forgiveness and grace has a heart shut tight against the real article, for that one is still dead in his or her own sin. Repentance must precede acceptance of any forgiveness that may be offered.

Finally, it should be noted that many times, genuine forgiveness takes hard work. It can take time, and it is always a matter of choosing to forgive. It's like submission: if we're in a sinful system that demands it from us, it is no longer the real thing, but merely an outward behavior compelled by one who presumes to control us. That is not how Christians behave, not according to the Scriptures. None of us is in control over another adult believer, nor do we have any right to demand or compel premature forgiveness from another. Our own eyes' planks should concern us much more than the other's eye speck.

We are to take the "one anothers" of Scripture very, very seriously; how we treat one another, according to Christ, is how we treat the Lord himself. If we would not continue rebelliously in open sin against the Lord, we ought not to give even the appearance of doing so against others. If we wouldn't refuse to seek forgiveness from the Lord, we ought to rush to seek it from the brothers and sisters we've wronged. If we would be horrified to say "You deserve my insults" to Jesus, we should repent from insulting another.

If I want forgiveness, it's not mine to demand. I'm much more likely to get it if I do the hard work of ceasing to sin against my neighbor and seeking true reconciliation humbly, as the sinner I am. If I want real relationship with my brother or sister, I need to show myself trustworthy. If I want grace, I need to extend it--real grace, not saccharine words that bely my actions--to the other.

It's not easy to practice (especially if we're immersed in this world's "Me First" mentality), but it's simple. Even the world "gets" it, though it's not widely practiced. I even heard it in Basic Training: "What goes around, comes around." Jesus once again was right: "Do to others as you would that others do to you." I rather doubt that those who so loudly demand forgiveness from others while continuing in their sins, want to have forgiveness demanded from them by unrepentant sinners.