Haiku About Udon

Apparently a restaurant sponsored a haiku contest for poems about udon (a type of noodle). A few friends and I had an sms thread where we exchanged udon haiku. My friends George and Neil had much better entries than I did. Here are a few that I contributed. Correct, the last one has nothing to do with Udon. I also introduced rhyming which has nothing to do with haiku and everything to do with you, dear reader.

  1. Udon is noodles
    Feudal lords bring the soy sauce
    Soy bomb, soy haram.
  2. You cast chopstick sieve
    To catch the udon, to live
    Here, my child, a bib.
  3. A gentleman’s C.
    A child of a legacy.
    Until SAT

Politicizing the Pandemic

One of the galling things about this pandemic is the degree of politicization. It’s so bad that the Chronicle of Higher Education, in its ongoing feature that lists colleges and universities that require the vaccination for students or employees, uses the familiar blue/red state designation.

Screenshot of red state blue state from Chronicle of Higher Education's vaccine report.

The tabular view also includes the state’s electoral college vote:

I wrote the author of the article to ask, “why the politicization?” The answer was that there is evidence that the state’s political leaning has affected the state’s vaccine rollout strategy and college policies. Makes sense, but wow.

If you do tend to lean towards conservative beliefs, the Chronicle of Higher Education is a fun mailing list to be on. Every day there are articles in which academics express worry about the degree of conservative influence at colleges. Pretty much the mirror image of what conservatives worry about with regard to academia.

Jane Pauley

When I was about 3 or 4 years old I would watch television for about 15 minutes after breakfast and before my mom would take me to pre-K. We called pre-K “3-year-old kindergarten,” if I recall correctly.

Well, one day I was sitting there watching Jane Pauley on the Today Show on NBC. It was probably around 1978 and I loved her smile and just thought she was the bees knees. So, I started waving at her and I kept waving and waving. And, I kid you not, after what seemed like a lot of waving on my part, she paused speaking for a moment, laughed a little, and waved back at the camera.

Now, I can’t explain this other than to conclude it must just be a delightful coincidence. I have no idea how to account for it, but this flat out happened exactly as I present it above and it is one of my strongest memories from childhood.

Congregational Prayer, 1/3/2021

Please join me as we go to God in prayer.

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we pray to you in peace. “How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies submit themselves to you. All the earth worships you and sings praises to your name.”

Lord of hosts, we pray for the Church, that you would preserve her faithful; and for her ministers, that you would give them delight in this joyful season and restful reflection on the mystery of the incarnation that they preach. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth! We pray for mothers and their children, especially infants, and for the unborn at Grace Presbyterian. We pray that you, Father, who has perfected your praise in the mouths of babes and nursing infants would turn the hearts of all who, like King Herod, would despise children or destroy the unborn for selfish gain. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

God of all comfort, we pray for all women who mourn the loss of infants, that you would give them comfort in their grief and fix our eyes on Christ, who for a time was spared, but has shed His blood for our salvation. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

Gracious God, we pray for fathers, mothers, and all guardians, that they would see their children as undeserved gifts from God’s hand, be strengthened to bear the cross, and remain faithful examples of the Christian faith to them. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

Eternal Lord, Ruler of all, we pray for those in positions of authority among us, especially our Aldermen, our Mayor, our state representatives and senators, our Governor, our National senators and representatives, our President, judges at all levels, and police at all levels, that you would guide them by your Spirit to be high in purpose, wise in counsel, firm in good resolution, and unwavering in duty; and for our nation and its people in this new year, that we may be governed quietly and peaceably. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord of hosts, for all those in need, we pray:

For those with health needs and their caregivers: [names redacted]

For those with other needs: [names redacted]

Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord of the easy yoke, for all who are burdened and come to this worship service today for rest, we pray that your Holy Spirit would preserve us from stubbornness, impenitence, and unbelief, cleanse us from our unrighteousness, and clothe us with the righteousness purchased with Christ’s blood. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

O Lord God, heavenly Father, You allowed Your Son, Jesus Christ, to become a stranger and sojourner in Egypt for our sakes and led Him safely home to His fatherland. Mercifully grant that we poor sinners, who are strangers and sojourners in this perilous world, may soon be called home to our true fatherland, the kingdom of heaven, where we will live in eternal joy and glory; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, and who taught us to pray: [Lord’s Prayer]

(What is this prayer? Read about how and why I prepare these.)

Congregational Prayer, 11/29/2020

Part of my duties as an elder in the Presbyterian Church in America is to assist the pastor in leading worship on a rotating schedule with the other elders. When it is time for the scripture readings, the elder reads, then leads in a congregational prayer that culminates in the Lord’s Prayer. Then, after the Lord’s Prayer and a hymn, the elder introduces the offering.

My approach to composing the prayer is to take the prayer from the LCMS Lutheran Church’s three-year series prayers for a given Sunday and make necessary adaptations. As a PCA church in the South, our congregation has communion rather more infrequently than many PCA churches and, since the LCMS liturgy assumes weekly communion, sometimes I have to make adjustments to remove statements that anticipate or link to the supper. I usually link these to other means of grace such as prayer or preaching of the word. I will sometimes change content for other reasons, such as to emphasize a different theological theme or to remove something that is so relentlessly Lutheran that it would be jarring to our congregation. These posts will present the prayer as I have used it in actual worship. I’m composing this explanation in early 2022, but below is the first prayer I led as a new elder. At that point I was still reading the “Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer” at the end of each clause. Later, I dropped this since it is more appropriate for when a congregation joins in that part. Ideally, every church would have a lectionary and follow the church year so that prayer, hymns, and readings can be coherent, so I understand if this looks a little bit disjointed from the perspective of other traditions. Obviously, the topic of the LCMS prayers goes along with the readings for that Sunday and the liturgical season. I confess that our tradition is a little impoverished in this respect, but there are some serious reasons why historically the Presbyterians took a different path and I’ve promised to uphold the peace and purity of this tradition. Anyway, I hope these may be helpful:

God, our Father in heaven, look with mercy on us, your needy children on earth, and grant us grace that your holy name be hallowed by us and by all the world through the pure and true teaching of your word and the fervent love shown forth in our lives. Graciously turn from us all false doctrine and evil living whereby your precious name is blasphemed and profaned. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

May your kingdom come to us and expand. Bring all transgressors and those who are blinded and bound in the devil’s kingdom to know Jesus Christ, your son, by faith that the number of Christians may be increased. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Strengthen us by your spirit according to your will, both in life and in death, in the midst of both good things and evil things, that our own wills may be crucified daily and sacrificed to your good and gracious will. Into your merciful hands we commend:

Those with health needs: [Names Redacted]

Those with other needs: [Names Redacted]

We commend these and all who are in need, praying for them at all times that your will be done, Lord, in your mercy.

Grant us our daily bread, preserve us from greed and selfish cares, and help us trust in you to provide for all our needs. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Forgive us our sins as we also forgive those who sin against us so that our hearts may be at peace and may rejoice in a good conscience before you, and that no sin may ever frighten or alarm us. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lead us not into temptation, O Lord, but help us by your spirit to subdue our flesh, to turn from the world and its ways, and to overcome the devil with all of his devious and cunning strategies. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

And lastly, O heavenly Father, deliver us from all evil of both body and soul, now and forever. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We trust, O Lord, in your great mercy to hear and answer us; through Jesus Christ, our Lord who taught us to pray… [Lord’s Prayer]

The Electoral College

If you don’t like the electoral college it may partly be because you are WEIRD – western, educated, industrialized, rich (by world standards), and democratic. This means that in a red state, your values likely differ from a majority of your fellow state citizens and that your perspective differs from the democracy-phobic founders who put the electoral college in place to prevent straight up democracy that would negate the will of rural states in favor of national rule. In the 2016 election, even though he had fewer votes overall, Trump won a majority of votes in 2,626 counties to Hillary’s 487. From a more localized perspective, it would be strange for someone who has the support of so many counties to not be the winner.

We have given so much power over our lives over to the executive branch bureaucracy that it is hard for us to imagine that local rule is more important or that it is important to ensure that all *kinds* of people have an impact on the national election no matter how many people represent the “kind.” So many Americans are aligned with the values of professor Netflix and the national news media that they are disconnected from their neighbors and care more about the national will and the national historical story than the local- the electoral college seems like a quaint barrier to an unqualified good, democracy. But democracy is a dangerous form of government for minorities (two wolves and a sheep voting for what’s for supper) and fear of it is what drove the way American government was designed, to put checks on majority rule locally, to completely negate the tyranny of high-population centers nationally through the electoral college, and to only allow state legislators to elect senators. That last protection was chipped away by the 17th amendment. The electoral college is one of the few protections left.

Misinterpreted Visuals

When I was a kid, the Chiquita banana logo looked like this:

Chiquita, As it Really Was

The old one, as you can see, has an anthropomorphic banana with a fruit bowl on its head. I grew up in the 1980s, so maybe you’ve never seen that logo if you are much younger than I am.

But I didn’t see the anthropomorphic banana. Here’s what I saw:

Chiquita, as Young Barlow Saw It

Notice, it looked like a Kermit the Frog or Cookie Monster type monster.

For a while, I’ve been perplexed about why I saw it that way as a kid. Because, as an adult, I kept seeing the lady, but not the monster. I was perplexed, I now know, because they changed it at some point to a human lady with a fruit bowl on her head, Carmen Miranda style:

Chiquita, As it is Now

Mystery solved. And for the record, it took a long time to track down a photo of the original logo, adding to my confusion. I’ll admit, I still see the monster in the original one at first glance, especially if I see it at a smaller size as it would have been on a banana held by a younger me.