Weekend Thought From Flannery O'Connor

From Flannery O'Connor's letter to Alfred Corn on May 30, 1962:

Even in the life of a Christian, faith rises and falls like the tides of an invisible sea. It's there, even when he can't see it or feel it, if he wants it to be there. You realize, I think, that it is more valuable, more mysterious, altogether more immense than anything you can learn or decide upon in college. Learn what you can, but cultivate Christian scepticism. It will keep you free — not free to do anything you please, but free to be formed by something larger than your intellect or the intellects of those around you.

A doubting or questioning attitude or state of mind)


Something to Ponder

As details start emerging on the new stimulus and housing plans brought forth by the new administration, I want to offer something to consider. If it is true—and all indications are that this is the case—the threshold for higher taxes is household incomes of $250,000+, I recommend we start to channel all of that energy we are using to "get ahead" and "succeed" in the business world into other areas. Maybe instead of working that extra 30 hours for that bonus, we put those hours into our kids lives. Coach a soccer team, volunteer with the school band or just be there for dinner. If kids are not a factor, consider volunteering at church or at the local shelter. There are plenty of groups out there that could use our time and energy. At some point the bonus will not be worth the effort but investing in people's lives will never be a waste of time.


One For the Little Guy

What started out as an innocuous errand-filled lunch yesterday turned into a battle cry for liberty and justice. But that is not all that unusual for my wife. After picking up a small check from a consignment shop ($30), she decided to cash the check at the bank the store uses for its business account which was conveniently located two blocks from the store. In the drive-through line at the bank, she was informed by the teller in the booth that the new policy of the bank was to charge $5 to cash a check from a business account. My wife said, “no way” and asked for the check and her driver license to be returned via air tube. In most instances, that would have been the end of the situation. Read on.

As she pulled away from the bank, she realized that she was very angry about what had just transpired. How ridiculous was it that the bank holding the corporate account would charge some regular Joe off the street $5 to cash a check from that account. It made no sense. So she pulled into the parking lot and decided to speak to the teller in person, hoping to rectify the situation. The bank lobby was devoid of customers, only two tellers and a person sitting at a desk being the live bodies in sight. She walked up to a teller and asked that they cash her check and not charge her the fee. The teller explained that she couldn’t do that. My wife argued that she could. After being turned down again, my wife asked why they decided to change the policy. The teller said that it was a new policy from management. That was no answer so Hope asked again, “But why?” The teller looked over at the teller next to her for some help and she offered that if we walked into a Wachovia or Bank of America we would be faced with the same fees.

Incredulous, my wife responded forcefully that she could not believe they were comparing themselves to those two banks and that she considered (one of the banks) to be the most crooked bank in America! “Why would you even want to be compared to them?” Then she held up the check in question and asked, “Is this your logo on this check? Does this business have an account with you? Then why in the world do you not trust your own clients enough to cash a check from their account? What is that five dollars for?”

The response? “Well, ma'am, you can open a checking account with us and receive free checking.”

“There is no way I would EVER open an account with this bank. Ever!” With that she decided to leave, her work complete. Almost.

She got out the door but then turned and walked back in. She pointed to the man at the desk and said, “If you are a manager here, shame on you for letting me walk out of this bank unsatisfied.” And she left.

Is there a lesson here about customer service? Or is it a lesson on dealing with strong females who need their $30 for lunch money? I think it depends on which side of the debate you are residing. I know who I am defending. (Are you crazy?)


We Clean Up Good!

The entire family attended Aaron and Julie's wedding today. A delightful event and, since we rarely are all dressed up in one place, we took a bunch of pictures. The photo below of the kids is one of the best but I placed a bunch more at our Flikr site as well as on Facebook. Check them out if you are interested.


Declaration of Nothing

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. There are a lot of things going on and sometimes putting my incredibly pointless thoughts into the digital ether slides down the priority list. Besides, if I wrote something every day, how would I get you to miss me?

The problem is I don’t feel like I have anything to say. I know, that has never stopped me before, but I don’t want to just put stuff on here for the sake of meeting a quota or deadline. So I haven’t. I’ve been writing, trying to get the new novel idea off the ground (I believe the proper term is “work in progress”) but that is different. The daily ramblings have ceased to be interesting, at least to me.

I have been immersed in the social media world for years and am still monitoring its progress from within, using Twitter, Facebook, this blog (and others) and everything else that is out there, but I have come to the conclusion that, unless I have something to sell or something to say, it is not worth the time. And I do not have something to sell and I really don’t have anything to say so my drive to post has been squelched a bit. Yet I am drawn to all of this technology (how could you not find it cool to have Lance Armstrong tell you his bike was stolen or Karl Rove tell you he is going hunting in Texas!) and that sets up an interesting emotional and psychological tug of war in my head. To feed both sides I will continue to watch and learn and occasionally toss a few verbal kernels into the fray. And I hope that satisfies the internal rumbles. (Let’s see... I think I can mix one more metaphor if I try hard enough... hold on...)

Maybe one day my head will exit the fog and some clarity will set in and I will be sure and record that here, first. Or second. I usually hand write thoughts first. Maybe that’s the problem! I am still nursing my inner Luddite...


The Curtain Rolls Back. Look Quickly.

Last week I came up with an idea for a novel. I guess that isn’t so rare since I am always thinking of something to write but what made this particular idea stand out is it was actually a good idea, possibly verging on great. I started getting excited about it, researching some particulars, jotting down notes and possible plot lines, basically fleshing out the idea to see if it developed any legs (forgive that metaphor—it just sort of rolled out of me and my internal filter is a little rusty). In the midst of the thrill, the practical part of me began to whisper into my brain. Do you really want to muster up the discipline it will take to write this tome? Do you really have the time to devote to a project like this? Remember the last one? And the one before that? Even if you go through with it, will anyone care? Or will this just be another exercise in anything-but-getting-published? The easy answer is, “just do it!” but that is really not an easy answer. Life really is grey. Unless it is black and white.