Sunday, February 25, 2007

A small call to action 

For at least three years, the Rumping family has attended and been active in our church, The Church of the Covenant . I have become friends with the parents, Tom and Mei Ling. I have been blessed by their presence and their service in our congregation. To that end, they have had the grave news that their 2 year old daughter Hannah has recently been diagnosed with the "A.L.L." form of childhood leukemia. In the past couple of days, Hannah's blood pressure dropped as she has had to fight off a viral infection. She is in the Intensive care unit of Cincinnati's Children's Hospital right now. Hannah's condition has stabilized for the time being, but this trial has been tough on Tom and Mei Ling and Hannah's older siblings, Caleb and Sarah.

I ask for two favors from whoever may read this post or this blog: First, pray earnestly for this situation.
1. Please pray to the Almighty for peace, strength, comfort for the family.
2. Please pray for a healing of this infection and of this disease for Hannah.
3. Please pray for continued wisdom and discernment and dedication on the part of the medical staff at the hospital.

Second, I would ask readers to go the Care Page Portal and set up access and to leave a message of encouragement and blessing to this family. The words of encouragement have been a blessing to the family and will be appreciated. Please go there, log in and leave a message.

Thank you for your time and your support.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, February 16, 2007

Being right is . . . *yawn* . . . hard work 

I have taken to telling people that the siesta is an underrated concept in our society. A lot of that has come from the fatigue of working two jobs, but now I have some proof that I have been right. According to a recent large study released on the 13th, napping was found, in conjunction with diet, exercise and overall health, to have reduced the risk of heart attacks and the like by as much as 37% in men, particularly men in their 50s. You can read the full article

HT: Byzantine Right Calvinist

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A slightly different take on Anna Nicole 

My good friend Michael Corson has composed an obituary of Anna Nicole Smith that I found interesting to read and I think readers of this blog might find interesting as well. Some of the points raised I had forgotten about or simply had not considered before. So without further ado, Mike's essay:

“I Can't Help It . . .” Thoughts about Anna Nicole Smith

She was a shy girl from a small Texas town who lived out a rags-to-riches success story. She was a maverick, who lived life by her own rules and on her own terms. Even as she rose to, and achieved, fame and fortune, she nevertheless always seemed to remain the underdog, but she never gave up fighting for what she wanted or what she believed was rightfully hers. She was a walking, talking Barbie-doll, living to have fun, but at the same time longing for acceptance and love. She was larger than life. She was one of the iconic images of our generation.

When I first heard of the death of Anna Nicole Smith, I was overcome with a wave of grief and emotion that I could not explain. I did not pay attention to this woman while she was alive, so why did the news of her passing affect me so dramatically? Like almost everyone else in America and around the world, I have spent the last few days grappling with the news of her death and the emotions that this news has aroused.

Since her death last Thursday afternoon, the focus of the news and print media and the talk show commentators is already shifting away from the busty blonde bombshell to the questions surrounding her death, her baby girl and her future, the issues surrounding paternity, and the problems of sorting out the mess that is Anna Nicole's estate and who has legal claim to how much of its money. As I followed the story, I heard several negative terms used to describe this woman such as “vain,” “empty,” and “worthless life,” even “slutty.” I am surprised and, quite frankly, very disappointed at the general lack of respect given to Anna Nicole by the newsmen and talking heads. Regardless of what one may think of Anna Nicole or her lifestyle, she is entitled to respect, even feigned respect for appearance's sake, in death. Although most of us in middle-class American society have serious issues with many of Anna Nicole's choices in life, and although we do not condone those choices, we have to recognize, perhaps even admire, albeit grudgingly, that hers is a genuine American rags-to-riches story. Before the focus of the news shifts away from this unique character completely and turns to these other matters, in the face of the hurricane-force winds of negative criticism about this woman, I would like to throw up a few straws of positive commentary.

Over the weekend, I have heard two talk show hosts on local radio and one guest on a network cable news show make the same comment, that Anna Nicole was famous just for being famous. While this is a common charge these days hurled at many celebrities who do not seem to have real talent, in this case it misses the mark. Paris Hilton is the obvious example of someone who is famous just for being famous. Paris catapulted to notoriety because of a sex video on the internet. Because she comes from an extremely wealthy family and does not need to work for a living, she can indulge herself with a life of leisure, going on shopping sprees and to parties to her heart's content. She does her reality series for a lark, not because she needs to cash.

Unlike Paris Hilton, Anna Nicole Smith made her way up from a shy young girl in a small Texas town, working first in a fried chicken restaurant, later in a topless bar. She attracted the attention of Playboy magazine, appearing first on the cover, then doing a pictorial, eventually becoming Playmate of the Year; all in all, she graced the magazine's cover four times. As her career began to take off, she landed movie rolls and became the face in the ads for Guess jeans. More recent were her truly awful reality series and her role as pitchwoman for Trim Spa. In other words, unlike Paris, she worked to earn income to pay the bills. Anna Nicole used what she had--her beauty, charm, charisma, and a shrewd business sense for marketing herself, for this last of which she was not given enough credit. She worked to earn what fame and fortune she achieved; many of us may not think so, but modelling and acting require real work.

Those who make the comment that Anna Nicole was “famous just because she was famous” also fail to recognize the true nature of fame. Call it what you will, fame, notoriety, or celebrity status, it is, in fact, a large component of the business that actors and musical stars are in. Companies do extensive research to find personalities well-known and well-liked by the public who can pitch their products or services to the target audience. In most cases, the actor making the pitch is by no stretch of the imagination an expert in the product. Using a celebrity in such a way is a variation on the logical fallacy of false authority, using someone as an authority in one field who may or may not have legitimate standing in another field. If the pitchman does not possess proper credentials or expertise to promote the product, then why use him? The major consideration is not the pitchman's credentials or expertise but his celebrity status, his star-power, likeability, charisma. Moreover, those chosen as pitchmen pull down huge sums of money for such commercial work, so landing such gigs is a top-priority desideratum among the celebrity crowd. The glitterati of stage and screen, of sports, and of music are always concerned with their image, be it respectable or outrageous, and how to keep that image before their fans and the public at large.

Anna Nicole had the attractivness and, in the earlier days of her career at least, the big-time celebrity status to pitch almost anything. Love her or hate her, one has to concede that Anna Nicole radiated charm and charisma like a blast furnace. Even in her most outrageous moments, her charisma shone through, reaching out of the magazine or the TV set and grabbing us by the throat. In spite of ourselves, we couldn't help but like the sometimes goofy, often outrageous, always larger-than-life blonde bombshell. We also sensed that, beneath all of her outrageous behavior, she was still a shy, good-hearted girl from Texas seeking acceptance and love. Some of the crew who worked on the reality series with Anna Nicole, such as the hair dresser, said in interviews given after her tragic passing that when she was in the makeup chair--that is, behind the camera and out of the gaze of the public--she was just as nice and sweet, considerate and kind as she could possibly be.

Americans also like the maverick, someone who lives life by his own rules and on his own terms. Anna Nicole was such a maverick, and she was a fighter. As she rose to fame and fortune, and even after she achieved it, she always seemed to remain the underdog, never finding the acceptance and love that she craved, but she never gave up. Every time she was knocked down, she would get up and join the fight again. All her life, she struggled with problems of weight. The huge weight gain that made her look like a Macy's Parade balloon caricature of herself which she carried while shooting her reality series she managed to drop, and she returned to her earlier, voluptuous figure. Anna Nicole had also been embroiled for years in a legal battle over the disposition of her late husband's fortune. Although she suffered many setbacks in this legal war, she managed to have her case taken all the way to the Supreme Court. The case has still not been settled. One fight, however, that Anna Nicole was never able to win was her bout with alcohol and drug abuse. Although she fought these addictions, even going so far as to enter rehab, sadly she never completely got free of the grip of substance abuse. As of this writing, questions remain about whether drugs were the ultimate cause of her death.

Most of us did not actually know Anna Nicole Smith, of course, but we feel that something important was yanked out of our lives last Thursday; since that day we sense that something is missing but we don't exactly know why. The world can never have enough brash, beautiful blondes, enough rags-to-riches success stories, enough mavericks, enough underdogs who never give up the fight, enough outrageous characters, or enough genuinely nice women who remain small-town girls at heart despite their current lofty station in life. Anna Nicole Smith was all of these things. Each of us, in our own way, realize that we will miss those things. The world became a little emptier last Thursday afternoon. I predict that, as has been the case with Marilyn Monroe, Anna Nicole Smith will find, sad to say, more success and acceptance, even love, in death than she was able to find in life. I hope that now, at last, she has found rest, peace, and let us hope, the happiness and acceptance that she so longed for and that eluded her in this world. I choose to believe that Anna Nicole is in heaven, sitting on a pink fuzzy couch with Marilyn, while on the coach across from them Elvis strums a guitar and croons “I Can't Help It If I'm Still In Love With You.” I can't help it either.

Michael Corson
12 February 2007

Labels: ,

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?