Under the Maple Canopy

Singing Union Songs Since 2009


The “nones” and what that might mean for our collective future

Jason Pitzl-Waters has been doing a fantastic job in the last few months taking a look at the “nones” and considering what that might mean for our culture – particularly for the non-Abrahamic and minority faiths – going forward. Towards the end of the most recent article, Pitzl-Waters writes:

…it’s important to keep in mind the essential “pagan-ness” of our world today, despite the best efforts of Christianity and Islam to replace all beliefs with their forms of exclusive monotheism. Polytheism, pantheism, henotheism, post-theism, and other theological variants outside the Abrahamic conceptions of divinity continue to thrive and make an impact on our world. The growth of the “nones” provides the Hindus, Buddhists, folk-religionists, and “other” faiths a chance to change the narrative of belief in this world, that Christian and Muslim one-size-fits-all salvation are not guaranteed eternal dominance, and that we can find pluralistic alternatives to the status quo.

Definitely something worth considering on the eve of what is considered a universally celebrated holiday by far too many in this country. Things certainly won’t change overnight, but it’s a start.


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On the Horns of a Dilemma

Backstory:  I haven’t gone to a Yoga class in a very long time.  It may have been cold, but in a spring sort of way.  I’ve done Yoga at home since then, but nothing like I used to do back in 2010/2011.  I’m just not in a Yoga-rich community.

The Dilemma:  I ran into one of my favorite local Yoga teachers at the grocery store.  She used to teach at the one big studio that went out of business and then at the smaller one.  Then she had a baby and now she’s teaching again, but at a different studio.  The one that took over the other big studio’s space in an eerily duplicitous way.

I have taken a class or two at the new big studio in the past, but I really don’t care for the studio owner.  She’s…odd.  She’s also a huge MLM kinda gal which means you get more than you intend when you unwittingly sign up for her email list.  She maintains said list herself making it almost impossible to get removed from the list.  I had to set-up a Gmail filter so that all of her emails went straight to the trash after trying multiple times, unsuccessfully, to get her to remove me from the list.

In short, I had given up ever going to Yoga again.  Because I’m not going back there.

But said teacher is teaching there now, because the studio is literally the only gig in town and while there was that one small one a town over, the location was crappy and almost no one showed up.

So, here’s the deal.  I have childcare for tomorrow night (Hi Mom!) and I could go to a class where I like the teacher.  My upper back has been a little sore so Yoga would be nice.  If I just focus on this, it’s pretty exciting.  Also known as the positives.

The negatives?  The studio owner charges $2 less for a class than they do at the fancy places in Madison and more than a great number of other Madison studios.  Yes, some portion of this will go to the teacher, but the other goes to the wackadoodle studio owner.  Who I do not like and would not want to support financially.  Ever.

Did I mention that you have to fill out paperwork when you go to a class that involves giving your personal information and could get me on some random mailing list that I won’t be able to remove myself from?  The more I think about this the less enthused I feel about going tomorrow.

So, go and ignore one’s principled objections to the wackadoodle?  Or skip it because darn it, I have principles and I’m already paying for the YMCA membership?

Herein lies the horns of my dilemma.


Tuesday’s Quick Hits – Choices

From First Draft

Time and treasure are always available. US resources — public and private — are always available. The “no we can’t” spirit so prevalent in government and private industry these days only seems to apply when we feel like it. (emphasis mine)

From The Yoga of Parenting

The question I get asked most often is “how can I find the time to practice pausing so that I can do it in stressful times?” There are as many ways to practice as there are personalities and situations. The key is to find the practice that suits you in your life right now.

Why practice?  It will help

…create the pause necessary for the mind to rewire in the direction of  greater equanimity so that when we encounter stress, and we will, we can remind ourselves of this possible pause and we become stronger in our ability to move from a fight or flight response to greater ease.


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The Newest (and Recently Finished) Read-Aloud

I suspect, since the kid is in school, we won’t be able to meet our goals for the year with our Read-Aloud List this year. There just won’t be enough time to get everything done.  For that reason, it did seem a bit silly to add a book to the list.  On the other hand, after having finished the last read aloud, “The Sea of Monsters” by Rick Riordan, it seemed important to back up a bit and read the myth Riordan’s story is based upon.  Annabeth’s cleverness at referring to herself as “Nobody” when faced with getting her friends away from Polyphemus doesn’t really compute when you don’t know why she would refer to herself as such in the first place.  We’ve already touched a bit on these stories when we talked about the Ancient Greeks in history last school year so there is a background bit of understanding there, but there’s nothing like reading the story for yourself.

I went through many children’s copies of Odysseus before I was able to find one that wasn’t too simplified while also having a good overall presentation.  I agree with Linda and the commenters on her blog when they point out that the graphics and layout of a book is often just as important as the book itself.

I ended up selecting one by Rosemary Sutcliff called “The Wanderings of Odysseus:  The Story of the Odyssey.”  The artwork in the original version is fantastic, though I have to admit I like the cover art on the mass market paperback better.  Sutcliff’s version is written in such a way that it’s just about screams “Read me aloud!”  Her text flows surprisingly easily and had my kids enthralled from the very first page.  If you’re thinking about reading this book with your children, then I’d suggest starting with Sutcliff’s “Black Ships Before Troy:  The Story of the Illiad.”  In hindsight, that’s what I should have done.

Even the husband got in on this one and was as eager for me to finish it as the kids were – what would happen to Odysseus?  Is there a happy ending?

That makes this #9 and finished as of Thursday this week.  The old #9 “The Titan’s Curse” by Rick Riordan is the new #10 and we’re continuing on with that one, albeit a little slower than usual.


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Worst Prophets…Ever!

Back in 2008, Focus on the Family published a letter that was supposed to be from the future.  And by the future, they meant October 2012.  Which means, uh, now.

How did they do on prognosticating the future?  Libby Anne has the details.

Hint:  Not well.

By the way…what’s the punishment for false prophets in the Bible, again?  If they claim to take the Bible literally, then doesn’t Matthew 7:15-23 or Matthew 24 speak somewhat applicably in this case?  No?

Focus on the Family – the boys who cried “wolf!”


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The Wild Hunt and Punching the Hippie

From the files of “Well put, dear sir”:

Secondly, I want to talk about the importance of the Bible. I completely agree that the Bible (particularly the King James Bible) has had an immense influence in Western culture, but let us not pretend that this is because the book excelled in its prose, was especially unique, or won in some metaphysical literature competition. The Bible was dominant because Christianity was dominant, and Christianity is dominant because of a Constantinian turn, not because it fairly competed against other forms of religious literature. To believe that the printing press, great art, and great music, would not have occurred had the pagans triumphed is folly of the highest order. Miller is praising the Bible for the role any number of other works could have taken had Christianity not enforced strict controls on who got to read what for generations. Are we suddenly going to forget that the ancient world had a thriving literary tradition (one that smart Christians constantly cribbed from)? That the Renaissance and the Enlightenment had as much to do with access to pre-Christian works as it did the Bible? For a long time Christianity has only had to struggle with itself, and to praise the flowers that bloomed in its tended garden is to ignore the forest it razed to plant those seeds.

Read more from Jason Pitzl-Waters over on The Wild Hunt.


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Harvest Table


I found this table in a dark corner of my Grandma’s basement.  It was covered in cobwebs and my Mom remarked that it was something we might buy at the flea market.  I didn’t give it much thought because it looked a bit rough and really, what use did I have for another table?  A few days later we had our first frost warning and I got to thinking about my houseplant.  I usually put them in the bay window and then promptly forget about them.  They wilt and yellow, lose leaves, and otherwise look very sad until Spring when I kick them out of the house and put them on the deck railing in the back.  They’ll grow like gangbusters and look all happy and green before the cycle starts all over again.  Try as I might with my mindless neglect of them I just can’t kill them.

Or, rather I couldn’t until this year when I lost one due to frost.  I kicked them out earlier than usual because of the warm spring which mean quite a bit of schlepping in and out of the house.  I think I gave up at some point with the schlepping and one of them was pretty hard hit so I dumped it, rather unceremoniously, in the compost bin. The remaining plant recovered slightly, but then the drought hit and while I did water several bushes outside I tended to forget about the plant on the deck railing and it, again looked pitiful.

At this point in my story I’m thinking I should be thankful that there is not a Humane Society for Houseplants because I suspect they’d come and liberate the plant from my care.  Promise you won’t turn me in, ok?

I did at one point remember that the plant needed water, although that was probably because my husband had to move it and found the pot was a bit on the light side.  Typically when this happens I put the pot in the tub and turn on the tap until the water pours out the bottom.  Hmmm, yeah, you won’t turn me in to the plant welfare people, right?

I put it back out on the deck railing and then we got rain.  Lots of rain and the plant bounced back better than ever.  Isn’t she pretty?

I couldn’t very well bring her back inside to the bay window.  Clearly, though the window gets the most sunlight in the house (and you wouldn’t believe how difficult it is to find sunlight in this house) it’s not a place that my plant is happy.  But where to put her?  My Mom has gently suggested that perhaps I bring the plant over to her house because she’s the plant whisperer and all plants thrive at her house, but I can’t do that.  I started this plant from trimmings from an office plant back before I had kids.  I have dutifully cut off other parts of the plant, rooted them, and then replanted them.  Sure, I might largely neglect it, but I’ve got time and effort into this plant.

Then I remembered the table in the neglected corner of my Grandma’s basement.  Neglected table?  Neglected plant?  It’s a match made in home decorator’s paradise.

…Or something like that.

Sure, it needs a coat of something to protect the wood, the bolts on the bottom connecting the table top need to be tightened, the legs need some glue, and the entire thing is splashed with paints of unknown origin, but it’s a table.  It would have probably been taken to St. Vinnny’s or thrown out so why not come to my house and hold my plant?  As for the plant splashes, my husband has been directed, repeatedly, that when he gets around to shoring up my table and applying the finish, he not touch those paint splatters.  My Dad will probably think I’m crazy for hiding what is really nice wood behind them, but I think they’re what makes the table what it is.  Rustic.

At first the table just held the plant and it seemed right to me.  Then, I was decorating for fall (and our Autumn Equinox family dinner) and I had all these things to use, but no room on the mantle.  I added in a few paper pieced mini-quilts and then it was perfect.  Neither the table, nor the plant, are neglected.  They’re the focal point of the harvest season and the reminder that nothing is beyond saving.

Nothing.