The Ear

This amazingly intricate structure contains the smallest bone in the body, the stapes – I remember that section of the ear because I say the parts in the same rhythm we are taught to say “The Niña, Pinta and the Santa Maria” – try it: “The Malleus, Incus, and littlest Stapes”. Well, it worked for me at least. The Tympanic parts make sense as well, because timpanis make lots of sound (notice I don’t say they make lots of music, it’s a much different thing altogether). The various forms of “Cochlea” also ring memory bells because it is Latin for “snail shell” and came from the Greek “kokhlos” (land snail) – and were I a snail, I would want a window in my shell, so am very excited to find that the snail of the inner ear has just that – the “Round Window” (NOT to be compared to a square window, which are much more commonplace and less hobbitish, and therefore less appealing to me). I usually think it slightly pompous when people name discoveries after themselves, as is the case with the “Eustachian tube”, so I can also keep track of that guy hiding in there.

You see, I understand these things about the ear, as a unit it makes perfect sense to me, even the anatomical bits, all the way out the External Auditory Canal into the wide world of sound waves. What makes absolutely NO sense to me at all is the Auricula. I know it has the anthelix, scapha, tragus, crus, cymba, fossa, helix, lobule, incisura, concha, and sulcus, those things I had to study in college A&P. But somehow the professor skipped the intriguing part, the part where the whole class


And wondered…


Because ears are just plain strange lookin’!

Pretend for a moment with me that you have never seen a face before. A semi-conical symmetry of eyes, nose, mouth, cheekbones, and chin making a perfect frame for that illusive thing called the “countenance”……then, as you muse upon the well-laid plan of the face – POP! – what in the sand-hill blazes are those thing?!? Just stickin’ out, always uneven with one another on the horizontal plane of the face, bazaar curves and dents and dimples. Some people have tried to reconcile their oddity by piercing them here and there . Now, being a pragmatist to the core, I can find uses for them: they can improve or tie together an outfit, and are wonderful for tucking hair behind (they are amazing at doing this, and if you have short hair or no hair at all due to hereditary balding, I am very sorry that you have not experienced this). And, for some, it may serve as a welcome distraction from the main part of the face.

Am I just being weird? Usually. But really, ears are quirky, wacky, and just plain crazy. Spend a day looking at ears, and I think you will concur.

(I just can’t get over how they’re just stuck there, on the side of the face, pretending they belong with such confidence that we believe them!!)

Demons: An Introduction & Historical Overview

Contrary to the thought of many in churches and societies today, demons are not only real but they are actively involved in the world and people around us. The pervading ignorance regarding the fallen angels has been detrimental to the church, and thereby, the world. When the active power of demons comes up, people get fidgety and say that it’s not for them, or proclaim that they are Protestants and it’s only the Romans who need exorcists. While the audacious kind say, “we don’t deal with that kind of thing in America.” Others say that in the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, Satan was bound and will be until the Day of Judgement. These, however, are not the ideas of the Scriptures, the historical Church, or the Reformers.

In City of God, St. Augustine was heavily devoted to describing the real presence of the Devil and the interaction of he and his demons with humankind. The Devil fell from grace and is the Great Deceiver with a plan to draw men away from the worship of God. Yet not only Satan fell, but a host of angels with him, who also are devoted to deceiving men, turning God’s realities into lies. He does not present just a general involvement of the demons, but a specific one. Augustine is very clear that the Devil, the adversary to Christians, is now working in the world, seeking to deceive whom he may. I Peter 5:8 bespeaks this saying, “Be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him.” Many other places in Scripture also describe him as the Enemy of God and His people (cf. Ephesians 6:11; James 4:7; I John 3:8).

Satan, however, is only one angel, though he is the most powerful, and so he has employed the other fallen angels in his service since his fall. The demons, though of lesser power than Satan himself, are more powerful than humans are because they are angels. Just as the good angels can protect and guard men, so can the evil angels deceive and harm men. Augustine believed that “their powers of influence were enormous: they could so interfere with the physical basis of the mind as to produce illusions, etc….” Some went so far as to assert that Augustine believed that “the human race is ‘the Devil’s fruit-tree, his own property, from which he may pick his fruit;, it is merely a ‘plaything of demons.’ It is they who are seen as active, and man as merely passive.”

Luther, who is known to have interesting interactions with demons, says that one of the reasons he “should not wish to have free choice given to [him is that he] should be unable to stand firm amid so many assaults of demons, seeing that even one demon is mightier than all men.” He too calls the world “the Kingdom of Satan” and says that Satan “holds captive to his will all who are not snatched from him by the Spirit of Christ.”

Calvin also follows in the footsteps of Augustine saying, “All that Scripture teaches concerning devils aims at arousing us to take precaution against their stratagems and contrivances, and also to make us equip ourselves…and ought to fire us to an unceasing struggle against him.” To our brethren that think the demons have no active power around us and even with us, Calvin says, “lest any persons, entangled in that error, while thinking themselves without an enemy, become more slack and heedless about resisting the Prince of this World (John 12:31).”

Why, if it is the history of the Church to teach Christians about demons, have so many (dare I say most?) left this out? The Romans at least still have trained exorcists that are available and used frequently around the world. And oddly enough, the charismatic and Pentecostal clans have a more historical view of demons. Perhaps I have just been the lucky recipient of a father who has done numerous exorcisms and trained his children what it means to “be on the guard” but I don’t think so. When the Scriptures warn Christians about something, it ought to be paid attention to – particularly when it is about such a character as Satan and his minions.

Those who deny that much of “that stuff” goes on in America I have no answer because they are much like a child that walks through a snake-infested desert oblivious and completely defenseless, save the father that walks by his side sparing him from the venomous teeth. In this illustration though, the child will grow up and learn about the danger of the snakes, which is more than can be said for most who choose to deny the real and active workings of demons.

The last opponent says that Satan was bound at Gethsemane. This comes from Revelation 20:2, John’s futuristic revelation says, “[God] laid hold of that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound for a thousand years.” The key here is that this binding is going to happen in the Day of Judgement. Now, Satan was trampled by the seed of a virgin mother, but the freedom that he had in Job and has in the New Testament appears the same. And one day that same seed of woman will bind him for eternity.

St. Paul said, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against…spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” We as Christians should assume that Paul meant that there really, really was a war going on that we needed to be prepared for. And all this is not to say that we are to fear the roamer of this earth or his angels, for the Holy Spirit which lives within us is infinitely stronger than the demons. I am also not saying that we should be binding and loosing all over the place just for good conscience’ sake, but it should also not be a shock or uncommon happening when someone casts out a demon or talks to one. The historical Church Catholic has had this mindset of demons, and we should follow her wisdom praying for defense “against sin, the flesh, and the devil.”

Ephesians 6:10 “be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age,[c] against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints”

Nostalgic Starry Moment

I would never disrespect the moon in all her beauty – but in her absence such glories fill the heavens! Like small woodland animals who only appear in my absence, or when they think I do not see – so do these stars and planets come forth while Luna’s back is turned. Three skies I will always remember, they are imprinted on the dome of my mind: the first because it was the first time I wondered at the expanse, the second because of with whom it was shared, the third because I was alone and my thoughts were free to roam without any inhibition from star to galaxy to constellations I have no name for, nor need for one.

Curious to me that these lights appear best when the Ruler of the night is away from home. I wonder if they feel the short-lived liberation of a people right after the victory of a revolution: all in revelry until in sobriety they stop their dances as the fear of unbridled liberty creeps over them – in the darkness anything can happen.

Tonight they truly do dance, the scholars call this a “meteor shower, but I know that the little starts have gotten tired of wearing shoes and staying put, and want to jump into a river yet unbeknownst to them – a planetary pool of delight. The larger ones, they leave a longer tail behind as they are pushed out of their nesting places by the older ones. “Time to fly” their parents say. My very favorite, though, are the ones which linger a moment to make sure I am watching – these are the wise sages of the bunch, and as they move slowly across the years of timelessness, they impart wisdom to all they pass. It is the echoes of these voices which pierce the imaginary divide between them and me, and I am wiser for their words unspoken yet comprehended.

I sadden knowing the starry host will soon be hid from me, not by light of moon, but by light of man as I move to a “city”. I can only hope some of those which I have come to know so well will peek out from time to time to tell me the stories I am missing, the tales told while I’m away. And perhaps they’ll fall in my direction. I can always hope.

My Semi-Scandalous Post of the Month

Menstrual-Cramp Tutorial for Men.

Just because I think y’all need to know why we feel what we feel:
What we refer to simply as “cramps” is actually called “Dysmenorrhea” in the medical field. There are a few ways to medically describe what’s happening in there to cause such pain. The first thing you need to know is that every month of the female’s life her body is preparing for fertilization. Part of this process includes the thickening of the cellular layer of the uterus. So, in preparation the innermost lining, called the endometrium, thickens and readies itself for implantation. If this doesn’t occur, then that layer of cells begins sloughing off, tearing itself away from the other layers of the uterus (imaging the skin on your arm start separating and then falling off in pieces – change that, how about just being ripped off in pieces). During this process of sloughing, the prostaglandin starts producing this hormone which causes the uterus to contract, temporarily shutting down blood flow to the uterus, depriving the muscles therein of oxygen and other necessary nutrients. This, supposedly, decreases the pain we would feel if all the nerves were working properly.

So, at the end of the day what you need to know is that our uterus’ are oxygen-deprived and having a layer of skin ripped off – which hurts. A lot. In fact, sometimes it feels like a bonfire has been started in our abdomen and little savages are hopping around digging their axes into the sides of our uterus.

Not fun. Have some compassion.

The Heart

“Nowadays the word heart always sounds a little naive or commonplace. When I was young it could still be spoken without embarrassment, but now it’s a term no one uses anymore. On the rare occasions when it gets mentioned, the reference isn’t to the heart in the fullest sense of the word, but only to some malfunction, anemic tissue caused by a blocked artery, say, or problems with an auricle; there’s no longer so much as a hint about the heart as the center, the essence of human nature. I’ve often wondered why it’s been ostracized like this.
“He who puts his trust in his own heart is a fool” – Augusto often used to say that, quoting the Bible. But why on earth should such a person be a fool? Is it because the heart is like a combustion chamber? Because there’s darkness inside there, darkness and fire? The mind is as modern as the heart is ancient. These days people who follow their hearts are considered to be close to the animal world, to uninhibited nature, while those who follow reason are close to the upper spheres of reflection. But suppose things aren’t like that, suppose they’re just the opposite? Suppose it’s this excess of reason that’s starving our lives?”
-susanna tamaro

18 August 2009

When I awoke this morning, all was going to be well.

Then I had lunch with some lovely people, and enjoyed the wife’s dessert immensely. Five minutes later, when my mouth felt like fire ants were fighting a war in there, I calmly asked if there had been walnuts in the dessert. “Why yes,” the kind woman responded, “finely ground for the best flavor.” Benadryl. Home. Bed. 2 Hours of induced sleep. Check.

Feeling I had timed it all spectacularly, I went to work feeling quite well, though my mouth was perhaps a little itchy still. Minor offense indeed. I should here suffice it to say that my Lymphatic System is working spectacularly these days. The walnut bit went off alright, so why not add a little something to the pot and see if the ol’ body held up?

How about…..oh yes, a scorpion sting……..make that a triple shot.

The little bugger had crawled up inside my pantleg while I was working, because, really, I need more excitement in my life.

Anecdotal Sketch of Modern Medicine

The emotion bank of your body is monitored by a chemical called Serotonin, which can be manipulated and altered by nearly every component of your life, from the food you eat to the colors you wear. Recent studies have focused on these small clues to explore the idea that emotions are completely, one hundred percent dominated by exterior, mundane components. This means that, since emotions are not abstractly volitional or as some like to think, spiritual, then they can also be ruled by medicine. This has been tested on such conditions as ADD and has proven that changing emotions is as simple as putting a Band-Aid on a cut.

Given these facts, we can examine how this plays into the rest of the body. According to modern psychological and psychiatric studies, the human emotions or moods directly effect the health of the entire human body. And these moods are effected and often caused by vitamin deficiencies, making them unavoidable. For example, “violent inclinations or feelings are caused by a lack of Vitamins D and C, as well as Magnesium and Iron.”1

This means, consequently, that if people study the main factors in their mood swings and take the corresponding natural remedies, the world will gradually progress into a utopian society lacking negative emotions. Psychologist William Glasser believes that if we learn to take advantage of what “Mother Nature has given to us, life might be unbelievably joyful.” Psychiatrist David Burns even more optimistically observes that, “using medicine will free you from fears, phobias, panic attacks, nervousness, anger, self-defeat, and improve your health all around.” The key is to understand that the emotions are not a result of people’s volitional responses, but a consequent of nerves, environment, and diet, all of which can be controlled with modern medicine. As soon as people believe this simple truth, then we will have found the antidote for hate, crime, and violence, and the key to a peaceful life and society.

On Petting Trees

“Touching a tree is no different from touching any other living thing, in fact, even better. Why is it better? Because if you scratch a dog’s head, for example, you indeed feel something warm and vibrant, but beneath that there’s always a tremor of agitation. Perhaps dinnertime is coming soon, or not soon enough; perhaps he’s longing for you or just recalling a bad dream. Do you see? Dogs, like people, have too many thoughts, too many requirements. Neither dog nor man can attain peace and happiness by himself alone.
Trees are different. From the moment it sprouts until the day it dies, a tree stays fixed in the same spot. Its roots are nearer than anything else to the heart of the earth, and its crown is nearer to the sky. Sap courses through it from top to bottom, from bottom to top. It expands and contracts according to the daylight. It waits for rain, it waits for sun, it waits for one season and then another, it waits for death. Not one of the things that enable it to live depends on its will. It exists and that’s all. Now do you see why trees are so good to stroke? Because they stand so staunchly, because their breathing is so slow and so serene and so very deep.”
-susanna tamaro

Friendship: In English

The last post was me sorting. What I know right now is this: I am overwhelmed with Friendship in my life. In my early years there were friendships that were built for eternity and everything in between. But as youth faded I became lonely for the first time, as every friendship ran shallower than those early ones, and faster – more transitory all together. But as I take a moment’s pause now I see true Friendship in many faces – more than I ever could have asked for. Three in particular that have become part of me, our beings are now inextricable from one another. They are unexpected to most, comic to some. They have arisen without invitation nor expectation, but their roots have wound and bound me.

And now I am leaving this place. I know that transplanting Friendships is much more difficult than the rarest plant, and more painful. I know the roots remain, the seeds, the flower, but that our ground will no longer be shared brings tears of sorrow. I find myself desiring winter, so we can all freeze in this moment – but alas, the sun in shining out my window, beckoning autumnal change.

So, in English: I am scrambling for each and every moment here, to encase memories in impenetrable timelessness. And I am sorrowful. For the first time in my life, it hurts to leave.

our sad *cheers*