Time for the Sillies

Time for the Sillies

By Jane Tawel

Silliness – is defined as engaging in “a ludicrous folly”, showing a “lack of good sense or judgment”, or “the condition of being frivolous, trivial, or superficial”.

Silliness: 1.weak-minded or lacking good sense; stupid or foolish:a silly writer. 2.absurd; ridiculous; irrational:a silly idea. 3.stunned; dazed:He knocked me silly 4.Archaic. rustic; plain; homely. 5.Archaic. weak; helpless. 6.Obsolete. lowly in rank or state; humble.

Synonyms: witless, senseless, dull-witted, dim-witted. 2. inane, asinine, nonsensical, preposterous.


I am blessed to have friends of all ages and at all stages. About a week ago a friend was telling me something she and her young son did that was silly. And it made me ache remembering my young children and our silly times. Sometimes the silly times included me and sometimes I just over -heard the silly times. My family and I are all quite serious now it seems about each other and life. I miss grabbing a hold of my little goofballs’ grubby chubby arms and giggling, “Come here you sillies!”

 When Did They Get So Serious?


The current definitions of “silly” or “silliness” do not seem to consider it a preferable or admirable state of being. I don’t think the people who wrote these definitions were mothers. Or maybe they were never children. There are many types of humor, all necessary and needed and holy in their place. Even making fun of others can be helpful as we strive to burst the serious balloons of politicians, dictators or just good old fashioned meanies. I read recently that if only the German nation had had a collective sense of humor, they might have laughed Hitler out of the country before he could turn most of them into serious serial killers. (For laughing at Hitler, watch “Rat Race”). I like satire, and improv and wit and almost any humor; But I do not think silliness should be only a hallmark of childhood humor.

I have a friend at work. His name is Charles and he teaches History. Not a silly subject you might think. AND he is ex- marine, pretty serious right? But what I absolutely thank God for and so admire and love about Charles is that he is silly with me.   It started with his wanting to find a way to get his unruly students out of the classroom and so he would send them to my office with “The Box of Knowledge”. The Box of Knowledge was often empty. Sometimes it would have Charles’ Marine Manuals in it. Sometimes a blank piece of paper. The students always thought they were in trouble and / or doing something very important and would come quite seriously into my office. It helps that there is an important title on the door. (Another silly thing we humans do if you think about it.) The students had no idea what was in The Box of Knowledge and were a little scared to come, until they realized that bringing the Box of Knowledge got them a big smile from me at Charles’ silliness and also a chocolate from me. (It also of course got them out of class for a breather.) Charles knows that it is good for adult friends to share silliness so their minds don’t implode from their serious jobs. Charles also realizes that even very serious high schoolers (and if you are not around high schoolers much, let me tell you, they take themselves super duper seriously)—even they need silliness and often they are unruly because their teachers and their parents and their girlfriends and their homies have all gotten so doggone deadly serious.


When I taught 9th and 10th graders sometimes I would get frustrated when they behaved like little kids. But then I realized, hey, there’s a little kid in all of us just whining to get out sometimes. So I would in my most sickly sweet pre-school teacher voice and with my finger pointing at my eyes, shout, “One – Two- Three, Eyes on Me”. And they would quite happily shout back, “One –Two, eyes on you.” Once I went further and said, “Criss-cross applesauce.” And several of them asked if they could please sit criss-cross applesauce. You would have thought when I said okay that I had given them a new puppy; they were so pleased. And they were better behaved, big sixteen year old young men and made- up, coifed young ladies–sitting there like three -year -olds on the floor while studying “The Odyssey”.

My son Gordon loves silly humor and some of the best silly friends in the whole world. I am so happy for the times he shares his silliness with his mom and it is our joy during these turbulent teen years to set aside Geometry or English and watch “Key and Peele” or “Psyche” or Nigahiga.

Gordon and his Mom were always a bit silly:


You know if you look at the definition of “silly” and you look at who Jesus was, He was downright silly. He was: “lowly in rank, humble”, “plain, homely”, and of course “foolish” in the world’s estimation. He was never “dim-witted” of course, nor “asinine or inane”, but boy, oh, boy was He “preposterous”!

Have you noticed how much people have to let go of when they let themselves be silly? It’s why our best comedians, the ones whose humor is super intelligent but super funny are our silliest. Think of your favorite comedian and you will see I am right. It is why children are so good at being silly. It is partly because children’s pride is not developed to the level of adults. Their ego is small, like them, and silliness comes naturally. It is also because they are relational without working at it and silliness must come out of a wild freedom with the person you are with. Aren’t you often able to be silliest with those you have known since childhood? You have been together in ways that aren’t even part of your consciousness, and so you have a freedom to not over think, to not over control (either the friend or yourself) and a freedom to know that no matter how “dim-witted” you may act, tomorrow that person will still be your friend.

You will notice in the above definitions of silly, the example used in the number one definition is: “a silly writer”. I guess this post will prove once and for all how “ridiculous” I am, because I am actually right now in my own insecure, misguided, silly way, bragging about being a silly writer. Francis Bacon, someone I don’t really think of as a silly writer wrote: “Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not; a sense of humor to console him for what he is.” Our God-given sense of humor helps us accept our limitations while allowing us to keep dreaming of our passions being fulfilled. If we take ourselves too seriously, we are missing how silly we are to think we can do anything on our own. Our humor helps us give up a bit of our own control and allow God to laughingly guide us. Silliness is about freedom. And in Christ we have complete freedom. We do not have freedom to maliciously hurt someone else, even if we wish they would take the stick out of you- know- where and be silly for a moment. But we have freedom to be childlike – needy, a little uncertain, bold, creative, hugely loving, and fantastically silly. We should always remember, that our silliness was bought at a great price, and so we should use our silliness, just as we should use all our gifts from God, for Good and not for Evil. But we should, just like with all good gifts, cultivate, nurture and care for our sense of the absurd, our laughing at well, why pin it down? laughing at maybe nothing at all, and our sense of silliness. I have found if you don’t take care of your child-like sillies, they will shrivel up and die and all you will be left with are the willies and the bill-ies.

My silly husband and me:


I love silly writers. I love the fable of the Emperor’s New Clothes. I love Shel Silverstein and Dr. Seuss – both of whom are super intelligent, brilliant silly poets. I love Charles Dickens, he is so silly sometimes you laugh out loud. I love Anne Tyler, Douglas Adams, Oscar Wilde. I love Napoleon Dynamite, George Carlin, Robin Williams, Amy Poehler, Jeff Gaffigan, Jimmy Fallon, and Mr. Bean. I love “The Simpsons”, “The IT Crowd”, and “Parks and Rec”. I love my daughter Clarissa who inherited my side of the family’s silly genes. Clarissa and I do this pointing thing to a Dixie Chicks’ song, well…. You had to have been there. I love the silly sayings my husband and I share that no one else would understand (and that he would be mortified if I outed him about). I love my friend Heather Toole who has officially been my friend long enough and through enough that we can be quite silly with each other.

It is time I started thanking God daily for all the silly, silly people he has allowed to be in my life and my family’s lives. I am so thankful for my children’s silly friends who were always the best friends. Thank you Twyla, Grace, and David, Nathan, Caleb; Thank you Amy, Heather, Christian,Tommy, Dan, Mike, and Samanatha. Thank you to the Gordon Clan for my genes and to the Brallier cousins for sharing them with me. Thank you Deb and Zulay, Anne and Kim, Charles, and Julie, Geoff, Jen and Sandy. I would like to thank so many people for this award, tonight, but there are just too many silly friends and family members I have accumulated over the years.

Gordon and some of his silly friends


Thank you Justine, Clarissa, Gordon, Verity, and Raoul for all our shared silliness in this life. I look forward to an eternity of silliness together with the Great Silly Savior.

Here is a picture of my silly friend Heather Toole and her equally silly friend me.

IMG_1094            photo 2-5

The thing about silliness is – it is like a beautiful scent or sunset – you can’t keep it. Go on try it. Try to remember what was so silly it made you laugh so hard and then recreate it or tell it to someone who wasn’t there. Neither of you will be laughing. You will probably have a hard time even remembering the silly things you did or said or the silly times with your family. Silliness is not storable. Except in your heart.

My recommendation to the world on this day, February 22, 2015 when most people are sitting around watching serious actors accept serious Oscars, is “Go ye into all the world and do silly things”. We have done a pretty good job working the “Random Acts of Kindness” gig. Don’t stop that.   But could we please start doing “Random Acts of Silliness”? Be a fool for Christ today. As a very silly man, Charlie Chaplin, once said, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.” Don’t waste today. Go accomplish something silly.

An Ode of Thanks for My Silly Friends

(and if you are reading this you know who you are)

by Me, Jane (Go on, say the next line)

There once was an Amish named Duckie

Who lived her whole life rather pluckie.

She planted potatoes

And pineapples.

She lived in a house of beat-boxers

Who often ate bagels and lox-ers.

And they sang without fuss

About loving their Gus

And also saying bad “S-words”.

The parties had only just started,

While the kids danced with glee.

And then farted.

Then they cornered their besties

And had eating contesties

With really, icky, spicy, horrible combinations of things all mixed together.

Raoul and some others knew Cato

Whose Prius Hydrolics were Ghetto

Her auto-correct

Was stellar by heck

And zoxozoxozozozxhmfpsld.

They tried her once for Russian spying

And fashions she shouldn’t be buying

And one day she’ll die

But please laugh ‘til you cry

And take her corpse

Banana tube riding.


Ash Wednesday 2015


Ash Wednesday, February 18, 2015

I can’t put words together well today. Every time I try to think about any thing about the endless irritating meeting today or the fight I had with my child or how old I look these days. I think of the families of these 21 men:

  1. Milad Makeen Zaky
  2. Abanub Ayad Atiya
  3. Maged Solaiman Shehata
  4. Yusuf Shukry Yunan
  5. Kirollos Shokry Fawzy
  6. Bishoy Astafanus Karnel
  7.  Somaily Astafanus Karnel
  8.  Malak Ibrahim Sinweet
  9. Tawadros Yusuf Tawadros
  10. Girgis Milad Sinweet
  11. Mina Fayez Aziz
  12. Hany Abdelmesih Salib
  13. Bishoy Adel Khalaf
  14. Samuel Alham Wilson
  15. Worker from Awr village
  16.  Ezat Bishri Naseef
  17. Loqa Nagaty
  18. Gaber Munir Adly
  19. Esam Badir Samir
  20.  Malak Farag Abram
  21.  Sarneh Salah Faruq

Since seeing their names on Monday after their martyrdom Sunday February 15, 2015, I have been going down the list holding each name and each names’ family in prayer. These are my brothers in Christ who took up His cross in the realest way possible. These are my fellow humans who went to a dangerous country because they wanted work – a job – a way to bring food to their families. For bread, they embodied Christ’s body, the Bread of Life.

The one I can’t stop thinking about is “Worker from Awr village”. Did he refuse to give his name because he feared for his family if a name was given? Or did they simply not bother to find out his name? What is his secret name now, the name that Christ hands him written on a white stone?

The ones I cannot pray for, and God forgive me, but I can’t are the executioners who are as much in need of Light and Life as any of us. I managed a small little thought for them this morning on my 5:00 am jog – God help my violently angry unbelief. I felt some grief for those who kill others. But I just can not focus on my “real life” today. I couldn’t jog today because tears kept blurring the pavement so I walked carefully, like there were hidden bombs.

I went to All Saint’s for early Lenten service. I’m sure they thought I was crying for something in my personal life—I couldn’t seem to stop. I thankfully saved myself from saying, “I am crying for the 21 Egyptian martyrs.” Thankful because I do not even deserve to mourn them, in my dress and boots and jacket, and my stomach turning from going one stupid day without gorging on food, and the beautiful well cared for church, and driving away in my Prius, off to a job in an office – Oh, God, how can I even claim your Son as my Lord when my offering is nothing compared to the world’s martyrs?

My cheap tears offered up on Ash Wednesday for the mothers of martyrs. My easy pride laid down next to the poorness of spirit –the heart – ache –of the fathers of the 21 martyrs. My worries about safety blasted to smithereens by the dangerous world my brothers and sisters live in daily so that they can eat. My old face staring back accusingly with my head wobbling still on my scrawny old neck while 21 families see in their hearts’ eyes the heads of their loved ones lying in the dirt. My paltry prayers for my four children as weak as kittens next to the Lion of Judah alive in these great saints.

My cheap grace – surely God would forgive me if I denied Him? Isn’t my life more important than the Truth? My Walmart Grace.

What is it like to be like Kara and Casey and Malak and Bishoy and Worker from Anw Village and untold others throughout history who love Jesus enough to lay down their lives?

I tried to explain my grief today to someone who told me, “Stop, I can’t think about that. I won’t be able to go on working if I let myself think about that.”

We should not be able to go on.

We should not be able to go on as if nothing has changed.

We should let every thing change in us.

  1. Plus. Plus. Plus. Plus. Each day, across a “civilized”, “evolved” world, a human soul murders a human soul. Souls kill themselves with darkness and souls die because they will not deny the Light. Someone chooses death rather than The Life. Someone chooses Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life. Someone dies because he or she will not deny the Lord.All souls. All saints. All created by The Word. All making choices that mean life or death. But we are still not understanding which ones died when the 21 were martyred and which ones lived — eternally.  My life was bought at great price but I live it so cheaply.

I have no words for my shame and my ignorance.

I have no words for a grief that should fill the whole world.

I am only thankful for this day, Ash Wednesday, to “mourn with those who mourn”.

Oh, God, forgive me for thinking I am worthy to someday stand near them and rejoice with them. I am too afraid to even pray to be made worthy.

Forgive me. Help me. Accept my cheap tears. Hear our prayers.

How To Be Less Objective With Your Postman

How To Be Less Objective With Your Postman

February 15, 2015

By Jane Tawel

So, ever since I ‘ve started my blog and a few hearty folks have started reading it, I’ve noticed people looking at me a bit funny.

Sandy at work grabbed my hands and asked if she could see my fingernails and then started laughing really hard. And no, she wasn’t a hand model, but she did work previously as a manicurist. (Told you – I’m surrounded.)

Is it my imagination or since my last post have people been looking at me cross-eyed?

And my daughter, Clarissa, who so sweetly reads and likes what I write, the other day walked past me when I was sitting at the dining room table and scratched me behind my ears.

This is my funny friend Steve’s recent comment:

Jane, you are scaring me a little with some of these posts.  I find out you only have one good eye and you want to shoot just about everyone.  You do realize the police monitor social media now and may be making you a visit.  Fortunately I know that when you say “shoot” you really mean “shoot a mean glance at”, and even then you are only shooting with one eye.  Actually, knowing you, you really mean that you think about shooting a mean glance at these people, since if you actually shot a mean glance at them (with your one good eye) they might feel bad and that goes against the kind of person you are.  Since I am OCD, I do need to point out that your numbering scheme repeats itself between 49 and 50.

It seems this blog is just pulling the words out of you.  

Thanks for the read, Steve.

I grew up with Steve in Winona Lake, Indiana. We call him the “Energizer Bunny”. He is “that” guy – the one who rode a motorcycle cross-country at twenty, climbed Kilimanjaro at forty, hikes through the desert without breaking a sweat, and I believe Steve will still be doing back flips while sailing around the world well into his nineties. Yeah, now he tells me quite carelessly that he’s OCD?!?!?! How do I connect those dots?

Perceptions of people are chimerical. How we perceive people changes the more we know about them. Or the more we know what they want us to know about them. Or the more we find out how little we actually know about them.

For example, there’s the couple you’ve known for ten years, and one day she carelessly says, “oh, that was when I was married to my first husband.” “What first husband?!”,you gasp, gagging on your bruschetta. She frowns and says, “I told you that”. NO WAY DID SHE EVER TELL YOU THAT!

Or like that game you play – “Two Truths and a Lie”, and one of the statements is, “I am your biological mother”, and your mom says: That’s the lie! Surprise!

My son Gordon and I watch this show called “Supernatural” and the lovely human beings are going along like normal loving, fun humans with green or blue eyes and then BAM! In a second you realize the cute kid with the cowlick has been inhabited by a demon. You know this because when demons enter their bodies, their eyes turn solid black. If you ever, ever see your husband’s eyes turn black, throw salt in his face. Just sayin’.

Then there’s the stuff you think you know about yourself, but other people assure you that you are dead wrong.

For instance, you tell people you are an introvert and they burst out laughing – “You?” but you are always……. (fill in blank with extrovert actions) Or you tell your spouse, I have always hated lima beans, and he says, ‘you love lima beans.”

And you start double thinking, maybe I DO like lima beans….

The real question is, why does it matter what other people think? I mean, if I think of myself as an introvert who believes that I am being mean and selfish unless I am talking to the people in the room with me, then why do I care if you think I am an extrovert who loves being around and talking to people? It’s just a different perception after all, right? I see myself as someone who feels guilty if I am not talking with people and you see me as someone who can’t shut up.

The act itself is not changing, just the perception of the person analyzing it.

But we do care what others think of us. What do they say? –Perceptions are everything. But whose perceptions should influence what we think, feel and do? That is where subjectivity and objectivity matter.

You know it made my day when I found studies proving that Science (Capital S, Science) is just as subjective as any thing else. Scientists think they are all, like, “Oh, we are the only ones who are completely objective and therefore only Science (Capital S, Science) can analyze what is True (Capital T)”. (When you read that can you please read it in your mind with a gruff, stuffy, nasally geeky, superior sounding Scientist Voice?) But actually it has been irrefutably proven that scientists go into every experiment knowing what results they want to get. Totally subjective! They may know they know or they may not know they know, but they know.

We are the same in relationships with each other – we may know we know, or we may not know we know, but we know. The more subjective I am about you, the less objective I can be. For instance – objective with kids and husband? Fuh-git abut it! The postman, well, I can be pretty darn objective. Perceptions matter less with less love and need. More love, more need = more subjectivity.

And why not?

Well, for one thing, you will find as your kids grow older they do not want a parent to show any subjectivity about them whatsoever. A kid who is cruelly and selfishly growing up away from his / her selfless, adoring mom, wants you to be completely uncaring, unsubjective, unperceptive, and unintelligent about him/ her. You are to be completely objective about your kids by the time they are fifteen and when they are twenty- one, they immediately become your postman. (IN THEIR MINDS).

If your child does not show up for your birthday you are to feel as if the mail just didn’t come today. If your child angrily bites your head off (and his eyes turn black) you are basically to think of yourself as the dog that the postman just tased even though the dog was just lying in a coma in your living room. And it’s the dog’s birthday. It’s just that crazy postman again –LOL. Stay objective. You don’t love or need the postman. Who cares what he does?

That is how objective you are to be in your perceptions of your children after they turn twenty-one. After twenty –one, a child can tase you and you don’t care.

Your spouse on the other hand wants you to become more completely subjective about him/ her. You are to become uncruel, unobjective, unobtuse, and unstupid. You are to be completely subjective about your spouse after ten years of marriage and after twenty years, you are basically to think of yourself as the same organism. No surprises. After twenty years of marriage you have spent enough years surprising each other and now it is time to rub along nicely while you stand back from the splatter and together watch your grown children scare the heck out of you.

When you have been married awhile you love your spouse in the same exact way that you love yourself – completely and utterly subjectively.

For instance, your wife farts at the dinner table. You pretend it didn’t happen just like you would do if you farted. You are one farting organism.

Or your husband buys a new Mercedes without telling you. You smile and think, “Of Course, if I had wanted, I would have Certainly bought a new 500-million dollar friggin’ Car without telling HIM!” You stay subjective, no matter what. (Unless his eyes turn black and then you can throw salt.)

It’s a fine balancing act we are supposed to do, we humans, navigating relationships: both large and small, temporary and eternal, and casual and serious relationships. Am I ever really uninvolved – objective? My emotions can turn on a dime about myself and “the other” – even if the other really is only the postman (especially if his eyes turn black). People who know me will tell you I am not very good at objectivity. Of course, do they really know me? Do I really know me? Does any one care if they know me or I know me or I know them ?

We are truly only ever known by the One who made us. God promises He knows us better than we know even ourselves. There is much proof of this but as the Psalmist in #139 says, “God has searched me and He knows me.”

God knows, we are not created to be objective – even if we are scientists. Jesus was not objective. If you want evidence look at the relationship between Peter – a completely subjective guy if ever you want to meet one – and Jesus.

I really, really hate when movies or books portray Jesus as this completely objective, Zenned-out practically flat-lining guru. Objectivity = less love, less need. Subjectivity = more love, more need. Jesus was as subjective as they come. If He came to show us the Father then Jesus came to show us that God is subjective. When people say, God loves you but He doesn’t need you, then I think, well what the heck is the point then? Why bother?

See I wanna tell my kids: I know you want me to stop playing God and be all objective about your lives and your choices. But I can’t, because God isn’t objective about you either. Kiddos, I don’t just love you in this “objective, I’m so far above you and I could not care less kinda love” way. I need you. Justine, Clarissa, Verity and Gordon: I am completely subjective when it comes to how I love you. Kids, I can pretend and I can shut up, but I will never, ever, ever ever be objective about you. I love you too much. And I need you.

Jesus didn’t go through life as an objective human with no needs. He was the opposite of apathetic. He was the opposite of unfeeling. Jesus was, as in every other way, the most human – the most subjective. He just was able to not let His needs or His subjectivity cause Him to sin. That ‘s where we differ. But we do not differ because Jesus had no needs, no feelings, no subjectivity.

Jesus was subjective with his mother and family when they told him he was crazy and later when he asked his disciple to care for his mother after his death. He was subjective and both confrontational and caring with a strange Samaritan woman at the well when he called her out on her lies about her husbands. Jesus was subjective when he was grocery shopping and he zapped the fig tree for not bearing fruit. Jesus was a completely subjective extrovert when he whipped through the temple so the Gentiles could worship –not His people, not his homies, why should he care?

The Christ’s greatest need for relationship is perhaps shown in the Garden, when he is scared, and feels far from His Father, who The Son has enjoyed a close relationship with until now. Jesus needs his best friends when he wonders not only if He can see it through –the task of dying alone for something He didn’t do — but is agonizing over how in the world his “kids” will survive when he is gone. He is not at all objective in the Garden, but cries, “Could you not have stayed awake with me just now? Could you not love me enough just now to pray with me? Where is your love when I need you?

If Jesus came to show us the Father, then we do not worship an objective God. Oh, Jehovah is not like any other god – He isn’t subjective when it comes to choosing favorites, or whims, or human foibles and sins. That’s only what false gods do. But “I AM” is subjective when it comes to loving us – choosing us, caring for us, and yes, needing us.

In Scripture, God constantly needs His children to say, “Abba, I know You need me to do this, so I will because I love You.” God  needs Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Esther, Ruth. And, after all, He chose and needed one of us, Mary, fully human, to be the mother of His Son on earth. And He needed that Son to present himself blameless on our behalf, to restore and save us for relationship with Him for eternity. Jesus daily turned to His Father in love and need. Even when He was older than twenty-one. Jesus and The Father – a subjective relationship based on real need and real love for each other. That is great need. That is great love. That is as subjective as life gets.

Heavenly Daddy, Abba,

I am sorry for all the times I wanted You to be objective about me. I’m sorry I have doubted Your love for me and didn’t want You to need me. I’m sorry I shunned Your need for me to love You as You deserve to be loved. I trust that You are the only One Who truly knows me.


I’m sorry that the older I got, the less I trusted Your good advice and wanted to go my own way. Forgive me for the times I bit off Your head in anger because I was confused about myself and You. I don’t know me and I don’t know You nearly well enough. I’ll try to work at knowing You better and let You know me better.


Forgive me for the times I chose a lesser god to worship.


I’m sorry for all the times I missed Your birthday. And thank you, for treating me the same way You treat the postman – with sacrificial and subjective Love. Thank You for loving me too much to be objective about me and thank You for needing me. Help me love you more and need you more every day, even though I’m older than twenty-one.

Your daughter,

Jane Karen Cook Tawel

Driving With One Good Eye

Driving With One Good Eye

First Written 2010; Revised Feb. 2015

By Jane Tawel

I was born with strabismus in my right eye. That took me an extra second to write because I still have to close one eye to figure out which one doesn’t see well any more. A human’s ability to either adjust or live in denial is amazing, is it not?

Strabismus is when your eye is supposed to go left and it sometimes detours right and vice versa. My right eye used to go all wiggledy-woggeldy. When I was four years old, my parents bought me an operation that corrected the errant eye, and the operation made me look normal but unbeknownst to me it didn’t correct the actual sight in my eye.

I didn’t know I was sight-impaired and defective until I was twenty-four years old. My future father-in-law, Gaston Tawil, took me to a hot -shot young eye specialist at John Hopkins who with flint in his egotistical 20/20 eyes asked me if I knew I was legally blind in my right eye. Legally blind!?!?! Wow, I felt like I’d just been asked, “Did you know you are legally stupid?” I had been legally tested and been found to be legally faulty. Dr. Hotshot furthermore told me there was nothing I could EVER DO to change my blind eye because some (and he implied) Podunk doctor had corrected the alignment and had thus ensured that the higgledy-piggledy corrected eye would never ‘learn to see’. It was a life sentence of lazy eye, which is ironic, because they used to call my higgledy-piggledy eye, “lazy”.

The irony was that although I no longer looked as if I had lazy eye, I actually had such a lazy eye that it didn’t do a decent day’s work ever. I had bum-on- the- street eye, homeless guy eye, lazy good-for- nothing eye. Good thing I like irony. Except when it has to do with me, of course. The young hot shot doctor who took great pride in freaking out the little blond bimbo, also told me I better take very, very, very good care of my one, solitary good eye, because if I lost vision in my one good left eye, I wouldn’t only be blind in my right eye but permanently blind in both. Two lazy good for nothing homeless guy eyes.

I thought maybe I had suddenly lost my hearing as well after this news as all I heard after that was, “Thank you very much, Blind Girl, and that prognosis will cost you five hundred billion dollars”. I was blissfully happier and wealthier before I ever went to John Hopkins. I took my little homeless guy eye back to my future in-laws, and told them, thanks yes, every thing went well. It is important to realize that future and current in-laws must always be kindly told lies if you want them to like you. After you get married, you realize that lying to in-laws is often part of your job description if you want everyone to be blissfully happy.

When I told my mom about this event, she felt so bad. You can imagine. Of course it didn’t help that at the time, remember, I was in my mid-twenties, which is the universal age of “Blame Your Mother for Everything that Ever went Wrong in your Life” Age. Being my mom, she tried to rationalize and explain our way out of this and when she did that, (which was often) she always knew that at the end of hours of discussion, when we understood what was going on, then she always felt that The Thing (whatever it was) would have been reasoned out of existence. Mom’s great inside joke with God on me is that I got four children just as my Mom did, all of whom have enjoyed hours of my reasoning discussions.

My pretty and wonderful Mom, Jane Cook, who did not do everything wrong:


But of course by the time I told my mom about my legal blindness, I was getting used to feeling sorry for my poor newly handicapped little old self and looking for someone to blame. Remember, all kids no matter the age have a hard time not hanging up their parents on giant Guilt Tenter Hooks.(I always thought this was tender hook, as in meat tenderizing hooks. Thank you, Amy Brallier.) I strung up my parents, the Podunk doctors and perhaps a few random strangers passing by and I refused to let them off The Guilt Hook.

I think the guilt hooks we make for other people are those big, galvanized iron kind you can buy at Home Depot that have the clicky bars that go across and you have to do something fancy to release the hook. If we can string someone up with guilt about our iniquities, infirmities, or just plain old bad choices, then we are going to string them up on a giant butcher’s meat Tender Hooks (see)—think Rocky meat room hooks. Then we can  take boxing swings at them for the rest of our Blame- Someone -Else Lives.

Those guilt hooks we make for others are strong – kryptonite-infused big crane hooks.

The guilt hooks we make for ourselves, should we ever feel the slightest twinge of needing to feel guilty, are the little, fake gold ones that you can screw into wood planks with your bare fingers, and that are good to hang mugs on upside down in your kitchen cabinets and which often do not keep the mugs on, but let them fall off and break. Our personal guilt hooks are wee itty bitty made of play-doh hooks.Our personal guilt hooks are like little bitty crochet hooks.The guilt hooks we hang ourselves on are totally un- sturdy and they allow our own guilt to slide off quite easily.

I hung my parents on Super Colossal Guilt Hooks and took my poor little homeless guy lazy eye on a guilt free trip to The Holier-than-Thou Land.

My Parents’ Hook:


My Hook:


When I was four, and after the operation, I had to go have my eyes checked all the time. I remember the doctor’s office as this very large, clinical, white, circular room divided into sections with doctors’ chairs all over the place and all around the perimeter of the waiting area were the many doctors peering into various people’s eyes. I’m not sure if this was a real place or a pre- literate dystopian nightmare of mine. But I do definitely remember the clinic had the only kids’ magazine in existence, “Highlights”. Today there is a children’s magazine for everything thing under the sun. There are children’s sports magazines, children’s beauty magazines, Play Station magazines, left-handed kids’ magazines, and magazines to read to children in the womb before they even become children.

“Highlights Magazine” had stories but also had connect-the dots, and mazes, and “find the hidden picture” pages. You weren’t supposed to write on those pages in the doctor’s office because the magazine wasn’t yours and other children wanted to look at them without having the hidden items all circled. So being good little Midwestern boys and girls, we just found the hidden pictures and traced them with our little clean fingers and sometimes, showed our mothers, who were sitting distracted by worry next to us.

But “Highlights” also had a cartoon called “Goofus and Gallant”. It was about two little boys, and one named Gallant was Good ALL THE FREAKIN’ TIME and one named Goofus was Bad, REALLY, REALLY BAD. Capital letter, “Good”, and Capital letter, “Bad”. I thought it was the creepiest comic strip I had ever seen. Now, I was a pretty good child in those days, so you would think I would have related to Gallant and felt good about this Christian tale of how one child, no matter what, always chose Good and the other one always chose Bad. But I didn’t. It seemed like maybe, just like I was born with my crossed eye and so I couldn’t see right, maybe some poor little kid named Goofus could just be born with a crossed set of morals, and not be able to be Good. Maybe you could get something crossed at birth, and then, you would always be Bad, even though you looked normal to everyone who looked at you. You could be born blind inside, like I was blind outside.

Goofus was lazy, just like my right eye was lazy. Goofus was naughty and weird looking, like my eye, and unlike cute perfect Gallant. Goofus did all the wrong things, just like Dr. Hot Shot made me feel my parents and doctors had done all the wrong things, and I had probably been born doing the wrong things – like Goofus. The prognosis: Destined to be Bad. My little homeless guy eye was just a born Goofus. A person could forever be labeled blind, never to be Perfect Vision Gallant, the Good One. Poor guilty, bad legally blind Goofus. And that name. Why did they name the poor boy, Goofus? Goofus makes it sound as if he just wasn’t intelligent enough to learn to do the right thing, like Dr. Hot Shot pronouncing my eye legally stupid..

more-goofus-and-gallant_thumb[6]              a53108f7543b75adbb34afc035d4cdf61243092860

After the operation, the eye doctors’ always did the same check up procedure. They would put a black disc on a stem over one eye, hold their hand in front of me and ask: “How many fingers do I have up?” “Now how many?” “How many now?” I can remember my family sitting around in my Grandma and Grandpa Cook’s apartment in New Carlisle, Ohio, saying, “How many fingers?” “Now how many?” “How many, Jane Karen?” Then the doctors in the circular clinical white room with many doctors’ chairs, would put up charts to test my eyes. They would put different lenses in front of my eyes that would be different colored, or would make the symbols on the chart go blurry, or get clearer, or bigger, or smaller and they’d ask “Is this good?” “How about this?” “Is this better or worse?”   And it was like they were testing me. They were testing me of course, but no matter how very, very hard I tried to score well on their tests, I could never see any better with my right eye. My right eye was too stupid to pass the tests. My right eye was my Goofus eye and no matter how hard she tried, Goofus-eye always did The Bad Thing. My right eye was blind and made “stupid choices”. My Goofus eye couldn’t help it, she was born blind, but I always, always, felt so guilty that I couldn’t see even for the doctors – especially guilty that I couldn’t see, even for my family.

Now when I go to get my eyes checked, I anticipate the doctors’ tests and I immediately tell them, “I don’t see at all out of my right eye. I am legally blind in that eye.” Almost always they still test me and try anyway to get me to see with my right eye, as if somehow I might have been wrong all along, or maybe just stupid. Just maybe they might be the doctor who has the right lens or the right trick or the right test so that my Goofus eye can finally choose good over evil and SEE. But of course they never can. I leave each office, still legally blind in my right eye. I always go back home with my little homeless guy eye, my Goofus eye.

And you should see the song and dance routine I do when I go to the DMV and have my eyes checked for driving. I admit to them straight up, “Hey, I am legally blind in this eye. I am driving with one good eye.” Like they wouldn’t figure it out, when they gave me the eye test and I kept saying, “No, nothing. Nope, still nothing”. I assure them and so far they’ve bought it: Don’t worry,I drive with my one good eye.

I think maybe there is no such thing as a boy or girl who is always a Gallant and a boy or girl who is always a Goofus, but that all of us are always both Gallant and Goofus all wrapped up together in one person. Just like two eyes in one face, we have one part of us that has 20/20 vision and we have one part of us that no matter what we do, it is always blind to what we should do. Or what we could do. We just have to accept that all of us have a part of us that is legally blind when it comes to God’s Kingdom. We are all the blind ones before healing comes from Jesus. We just can’t see very well, no matter how hard we try; the lens is dark and blurry on this side of eternity.

See, it isn’t any one’s fault that I never got vision in my gimpy homeless guy eye. I had one doctor tell me that we would never really know but maybe I had actually been born blind in that eye. Maybe the correcting operation didn’t make me blind after all. Maybe it wasn’t my parents’ fault, or the doctor’s fault or my fault. My eye wasn’t lazy, just between jobs.

Jesus teaches us many things about blindness but the lesson I love is when he heals the blind man by putting mud on his eyes – on the Sabbath. Jesus really is Dr. Hot Shot – the Great Physician who heals with a little “mineral water” and a little faith. Christ’s healing on a Sabbath is a big, big culturally religious No-No. But what He does that is even more radical than breaking the cultural law of no work on the Sabbath is He lets the blind man and his parents off the big galvanized guilt hooks that society has strung them up on.

We are all driving through life with one good eye. Oh, it may not be your actual eye, but there is something that keeps you from seeing clearly. One hundred percent, 20/20 perfect eye sight doesn’t exist in this world. As I Corinthians 13:12 assures us, in this life we see as if through an eye with glaucoma, a clouded mirror, a window that has only a tiny speck washed enough to be clear; we are all partially, legally blind. We are all driving with only one good eye. That’s why we need the faith of a blind man.

Do you know there’s a rumor that maybe the Apostle Paul’s thorn in the flesh was a weakness in his eyes? The apostle who saw so many things so much more clearly than anyone, maybe couldn’t literally see all that well. None of us can see all that clearly, until one day when we see Jesus, face to face. But we cry out, “Lord, I can’t see. Help my blinding unbelief!” We are called to use our one good eye, to try each day to “See Him more clearly, Love Him more dearly, and “Follow Him more nearly, Day by Day”(Godspell).


In John 9, we find the only instance of Jesus healing a man stricken from birth with a debilitating physical problem – blindness. Can you imagine a person who has never seen anything having enough faith to break the law by obeying an unknown Stranger, and then for the still blind man to walk the streets, his face dripping dirt from his muddy eyes, and to wash them in a pool – believing he will see a world he has no visual knowledge of? Then this same man when asked by the people in charge who was responsible for causing him to sin on the Sabbath, tells them truthfully, “I have no idea, but I do know that I can see!”

Sadly, the parents of the blind man want to make sure they are not strung up on the guilt hook. They disown their son and reject the Messiah who healed their blind child, so they can ‘appear” to be without sin and stay in the “In – crowd” of temple and society. How sad. Jesus warned us that those who are blind will see and those who think they see, will be blinded.

Jesus’ disciples saw a blind “sinner” and asked the Son of God, “Who sinned, this man or his parents – because no one is born blind unless it is someone’s fault”. There was no way this blind man had ever been able to hide his wiggeldy-woggledy eyes. No way to pretend he had perfect 20/20 vision. The man not only had two homeless guy lazy eyes, he was a homeless guy, begging on the streets because his family kicked him and his lazy eyes to curb when they realized they might be blamed for his infirmity as if it was his iniquity. So the disciples are just asking to clarify theology, “Hey, Jesus, why DO good things happen to bad people, and bad things happen to good people? Who is the Goofus here – this blind guy or his mistake-ridden parents?”

Jesus answered, “Neither has this man sinned nor his parents. This happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9: 1-3)


God formed us and knows our innermost parts. He knows we are both Gallant and Goofus and He knows we will sometimes choose wrong and sometimes with His grace, we will choose good. And He loves us. He works through forgiveness, and grace and love to correct even the blindest of spiritual eyes. And one day, we will all who choose to trust God, have 20/20 vision. One day with faith, all our little homeless guy parts, our Goofus- parts, will be healed and restored to perfection because we are walking with enough faith to believe it is not about our sin or someone else’s sin but about “the works of God and the glorification of His name”.

“For now we see through a glass darkly, but then we shall see Him face to face.” After the blind man leaves the temple priests and rejects society’s judgement of him, Jesus, despite a threat on his own life, went to seek out the blind man. When Jesus asked him if the man knew who had healed him, the blind man had no idea – remember he was literally seeing Jesus for the first time. But when the blind man, saw the face of his Savior, he was no longer spiritually blind and he bowed down and worshipped Him.

And so shall we, blind men all, someday worship the only one who can make the blind men see, for then “we shall see Him face to face. We shall know fully, even as we are fully known”. And all the gimpy, homeless guy, lazy-eyed Goofuses will be perfected, even as Christ is perfected in us. Someday we will be driving with two good eyes.


Words I Love to Use


Words I Love to Use

February 9, 2015

By Jane Tawel

  1. Flibbertigibbet
  2. Oxymoron
  3. Judeo-Christian –My husband gives me grief for how often I invoke this as world view propaganda
  4. Curiouser – Please read the book or you will just get curiouser and curiouser.
  5. Ubiquitous —I mean that word should be everywhere!
  6. Weltschmerz — Yes, I do realize you will need to google it.
  7. Uber – -Anything —Even when used alone for the Uber-ubiquitous company of said name, but also when used for Uber-happy, Uber-expensive, Uber-cat (cats always are)
  8. Schlock, schlep, schmooze, and schmuck —I did go to Brandeis after all.
  9. Catsup – pronounced as written, not like kech-up. Drives people crazy when I do that.
  10. Puberty – pronounced Pooh-ber-tee – that makes teenagers extremely uncomfortable just like their being in pooh-ber-tee makes their parents uncomfortable.. It makes the word sound as embarrassingly horrific as the state of being is.
  11. Oblique
  12. Obscure
  13. Obtuse – as in please don’t be.
  14. Verboten
  15. Smurf – as in “It is a smurfy day”.
  16. Humongous
  17. Gihugic (The Urban Dictionary absolutely counts as a dictionary)
  18. Epiphany (sounds so pretty, often isn’t)
  19. Radical – as in “That outfit is so radical on you.”
  20. Random – as in “Wow, that comment was so random.”
  21. Gustatory – love the word, love the action it describes
  22. Catastrophic
  23. Soulful
  24. Musicality — as in I love the musicality of the band Papa Roach (Gordon, am I right?)
  25. Bellissima! As you can see I am multi-lingual (oooh, that’s a cool word too)
  26. Fini!

The Philosophy of Otherness

The Philosophy of Otherness

February 5, 2015

by Jane Tawel

My husband sort of missed the point of my last blog on shooting people. He was right to tell me that in this day and age you have to be careful since people take threats online seriously, but he failed to realize it was satire. Changing it to nuking people was a compromise and wise, but it also ironically weakened the point.

My blog called: “People I Would (sometimes) Like to Nuke (Shoot)” was satire in the sense that it was ironic, exaggerated, parody of self. My husband is part French, Italian, Phoenician – they don’t get humor unless it is about laughing at someone else. I am Irish, Scottish, Native American – we get self-parody. My People have had to learn to laugh at ourselves because we have never ruled the world. (Some day……..)

I am vehemently, politically and spiritually opposed to physical violence – I am after all a non-gun owning pacifist – That doesn’t mean however that there aren’t lots of times I want to kill someone.

And that was the point of my last article. I often want to kill someone for doing the very thing that they might want to kill me for doing. I feel an irritation that more often than I would like to admit, borders on a maniacal desire to seriously wound or obliterate someone. This is sometimes a random irritating stranger and sometimes an irritating beloved one. Either one I could kill on the turn of a dime sometimes.

I will bet you 59 thousand million dollars that these very same strangers and loved ones quite often feel like shooting or nuking me for the very same or similar reasons I feel like annihilating them. Maybe you are one of them.

This is the problem Jesus talked about when he talked about missing the giant Sequoia in your own eye but finding the speck of sawdust in some one else’s eye. Same product. Different perspective.

I have spent years studying the theology of the Deity. I have not spent as much time on the theology of “Otherness”. The weird thing about my religion though is that you cannot actually have a belief system about God without having the same belief system about others. The Great Command equates, parallels, combines the command to love and know God with the command to love and know my brother/ sister/ neighbor. (Mark 12:30 -31) (Leviticus 19:18) Jesus of course takes it to the extreme and, even more weirdly, says we must also love our enemies.

I completely HATE that Jesus says that.

I have come to have a later life appreciation of what I call “the cursing psalms”. Just this morning there was a driver that almost killed me and I prayed the psalm that his children’s heads would be crushed on the rocks. I love the way the International Standard Version translates Psalm 137: 9 “How blessed will be the one who seizes your young children and pulverizes them against the cliff!” I mean it is right there in God’s Holy Word: “How blessed will be the one who pays you back for what you have done to us.” (Ps. 137:8) We are more wired to pay back, than we are wired to pay forward. Which is why we need Jesus to re-wire us.

The point of my last blog was that while I try to love God and try to believe that my life’s equation is:

Me + God = do good + love others= Me good person;

My real equation looks something like this equation:

I do something I want to do = good so God bless me; Other person does same thing= bad so God curse them.

Jesus ‘equation goes something like this:

I do bad = death; you do bad = death; Jesus + cross = life for both you and me.

Other people + Me= all bad persons = Grace from God through Christ for all= new life and the good life forever.

This is the philosophy of “Otherness”. We are created to:

  1. Honor Others. You don’t need to walk in my shoes to understand me. You are already walking in my shoes. All humans are broken. All are worth saving from brokenness. No one can do it by him / herself.
  2. Respect the Divine in Others.We are created with a Divine image – Imago Dei. There is not only a Story but a Glory in each of us.
  3. Clean Your Eyes before Permitted to Clean Someone Else’s. Some day we will be judged on how we treated the least of men on earth and the first shall be last and the last, first. The Other will always get to cut in line.
  4. Be one Body. Different parts, different functions, all vital to the health of the Body.

Jesus gave a definitive word on The Philosophy of Otherness in the story of “The Woman Caught in Adultery” (John 8:1- 11) Did you know this story was actually removed for a while from John’s text. In the earlier years, the Church was evidently afraid that the story would make people think Jesus was condoning adultery, a widespread problem even then. He was not condoning sin and makes that clear to the woman and to us when he tells her, “Go and sin no more”, but he was helping her accusers understand God’s Philosophy of Otherness. “You who are without sin, throw the first stone to kill her.” Here was the One who could throw stones; the One without sin and He, Son of God, chose to see the woman’s “Otherness”.

“Neither do I condemn you”. God’s Otherness means our Sameness. No one without sin. No one unforgiveable.

But what about when someone who claims Christ as Lord commits a transgression? When a fellow Christian sins and does not respond to constructive criticism – we are told to treat him / her like the pagans. First we are to treat fellow believers as family – come straight out and tell them what their sin is or how they have wronged us or another. Then we are to commit to helping them work toward restoration, both with God, with us, or with another. But if they reject your message given with love and humility on your end of course, then we are to treat them like they do not know Christ. That is to say, as if they still need a Savior. We are to love them enough to treat them as if they still need to know God’s grace and love – as if they are as ignorant as a non-believer or pagan– not one of the family, God’s family. We are to be even more humble and loving with our “enemies” or pagans than with our family members; Treating them with respect, perhaps even more understanding than we would if they believed as we do. This is God’s Philosophy of Otherness.

Gordon, my fourth child went to Trader Joe’s with me the other day and saw a bag of fancy pretzels he wanted. He put them in my hand and asked, “Mom, can these be only for me?” And being the good parent, I said, of course, we will hide them from everyone else and you can not share them with anyone.


With God, our Daddy, there is a fourth child in all of us. We want to ask Him, God can this blessing, this pass card, this free ride, this forgiveness be only for me? God, can I have it all and no one else gets any? (Especially not my mean and horrid older sister?)

We really hate the fact that the Bible assures us that the “Rain falls on the good and the evil.” (Matt. 5:54, Matt 5:43- 48) And that God loves to give His children good things—all His children.” (Matt. 7:11, Luke 11:13) We don’t want to be The Fourth Child, we want to be the only child. Perhaps the only way to really love and know God is to remember that Jesus was the Only Child, but He chose to live like the Fourth Child.

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

(Phil 2:3 -11)

As we think about the complete Otherness of God, we should be humbled and thankful and awed that God become Otherness by becoming one of us. If He in Jesus can accept, forgive, love and not shoot me for my otherness, then surely I can do the same for your otherness. When we accept God’s Philosophy of Otherness, rather than seeing a log that blinds us to our sameness with our brother; we see Jesus in our enemies’ eyes and that illuminates Christ’s image in them. Then we can put down the guns and bombs and stones and, albeit precariously, balance our lives on The Solid Rock. Then we can love the New World into being. After all, as Rodney King, the prophet of the LA Riots said, “Why can’t we all just get along?” As the Greatest Prophet says,  “So now I am giving you a new commandment.  Love one another as I have loved you.”

If we put down our guns and bombs and stones and stand precariously balanced on The Solid Rock, taking up the banner of love, then we can love a New World into being.

People That I Would (sometimes) Like To Nuke

People That I Would (sometimes) Like To Nuke

February 1, 2015

by Jane Tawel

People That I Would (sometimes) Like to Nuke:

  1. All the Terrorists
  2. All the Generals of All the Militaries in All the World
  3. The Secretary of Defense of Every First World Country
  4. Guerilla Warlords
  5. My Boss
  6. My Mother
  7. My Husband
  8. Myself
  9. Drivers who:
    1. Cut me off on the freeway
    2. Take illegal U-turns on side streets
    3. Cut me off when I’m running
    4. Almost hit me when I’m running
    5. Are driving on the streets when I’m running
    6. Tailgate me
    7. Don’t drive fast enough
    8. Cut me off for a parking space
    9. Almost hit my car in a parking lot
    10. Don’t fully stop at a red light
    11. Don’t go immediately at a green light
  10. Pedestrians
  11. My Dog
  12. The Neighbor’s Cat
  13. Rats in the Fruit Trees
  14. Rats in the Congress
  15. Bill Collectors
  16. People who don’t pay their bills
  17. Taggers
  18. People who are really good at art

I Would (sometimes) Like to Nuke:

  1. Litterers
  2. People who cut in line
  3. People who get upset when I hold a place in line for someone
  4. Neighbors who have loud parties
  5. Neighbors who call the cops because our party is too loud
  6. People who cut down trees
  7. People with gardeners
  8. People with garden blowers
  9. People who hose their driveways
  10. People who let their sprinklers water their sidewalks
  11. People who waste water
  12. People who make me take short showers
  13. People who turn off the lights I turned on in the other room
  14. People with maids
  15. People who talk too much
  16. People who won’t do their part in a conversation
  17. Talking heads on television
  18. People who are always quiet
  19. Movie stars who make commercials
  20. Movie stars who think they are too good to make commercials
  21. Whoever started Ebola
  22. People who step on the back heels of my shoes
  23. People who tell me I look tired
  24. People who are late
  25. People who get mad if you are late
  26. Couples who literally almost have sex in public
  27. Couples who literally almost kill each other in public
  28. Ugly people at the mall
  29. People who carry yoga mats on public streets
  30. People who carry little dogs into stores in America for God’s sake
  31. People who talk on their cell phones anywhere in public (hello, I mean c’mon, Text it!)

I Would (sometimes) Like to Nuke:

  1. People who don’t wear the right shoes
  2. Slave traders
  3. The woman who invented chocolate
  4. People who are always on Facebook
  5. People who think they are too good to go on Facebook
  6. People who drive Hummers
  7. People who ride bicycles
  8. The man who invented hair dye
  9. The man who first made his wife shave her legs
  10. Children dining in restaurants
  11. The parents of children dining in restaurants
  12. People who are rude to my children in restaurants
  13. Hoarders
  14. People in the media who take advantage of people with the mental illness of hoarding
  15. People who say I have too many books
  16. People who leave a large carbon footprint
  17. Ed Begley, Jr.
  18. Anyone who is famous but keeps “Jr.” after his name

I Would (sometimes) Like to Nuke:

  1. Mean people
  2. People who think they always have to be nice
  3. People who call me Ma’am
  4. People who call me Miss
  5. My Husband (did I mention that already?)
  6. Myself (oh, yeah, just shoot me already)
  7. The makers of cheese
  8. Two Buck Chuck
  9. Liars
  10. Anyone eating in public
  11. People who jay walk
  12. People who turn left over two double yellow lines
  13. People who cross at the walk when there is no little white man
  14. People who scare me on purpose
  15. People who can’t take a joke
  16. People who put up billboard pictures of food
  17. Immoral people
  18. Self-righteous people
  19. Young people
  20. People who make money blogging
  21. Ants
  22. And I would really, really like to shoot the guy who invented the smiley face.

Animal Soup

Animal Soup: More on Dragons but Also on Monkeys, Dogs and Hens.

January 30, 2015

By Jane Tawel

Okay, I am going to tell you something that may make you feel a bit insecure, but my husband has an animal with your face on it. My husband, Raoul, has this funny idea that every one looks like some kind of animal or other.

Now don’t tell him I said this but, I personally think this is because he himself for some years has looked like the most adorable fluffy -eye-browed koala bear. (See below) Isn’t he the cutest? And aren’t you just dying to feed him eucalyptus leaves? (He is also mostly nocturnal, come to think of it.)

Jane and Raoul

I on the other hand, as you can see in this picture, look like a sad-eyed, pop-eyed, long-eared basset hound who is constantly eating or looking for food.

My husband will look at someone and say: “Doesn’t that person look like a pigeon?” Doesn’t that person look like a rat? And he has always had a thing for women who look (to him) like cats. (Remember, his wife looks like a basset hound.)


Speaking of my husband, unlike he, I find the theory of evolution pretty downright silly, if you want to know the truth. I do happen to believe in Devolution. While I do not believe it is possible for a monkey to become a man, I absolutely know of people the world over who once were humans and now seem more like monkeys. And I don’t mean how they look.

Although sometimes….



A society becoming smarter technologically is not necessarily becoming wiser humanly. If there were ever a time of world history that is as “eat, drink and be merry because tomorrow you die” as this current era of our First World Countries, then we would probably have to go back to the Greco-Roman Epicureans, Solomon’s Kingdom of Israel, or the Qing Dynasty of China. In fact,  Ecclesiastes, a book of Solomon, contains the first record of this philosophy.


The book of Ecclesiastes is an essay on excess by a King of Excess who wrote it probably towards the end of his life when he wondered “what’s it all about” and “what was the purpose of it all?” Ironically, Solomon’s other writings reflect his youthful prayer to God when he first became King and asked not for wealth, health or long life, or even for a perfect life-mate (he ended up with 700 wives and 300 concubines) but he asked for wisdom. (So frankly, side note – I have always felt that men having multiple wives / concubines was not an indication of wisdom or even street smarts for that matter. Women historically having only one spouse is proof of women’s superior wisdom – I mean, come on girlfriends, would any of you actually WANT to take care of more than one man at a time? I would be happy to share the workload, frankly.)

First World Country people think they are living like gods, but if you look at the animal profile, we are living more like packrats.



imelda marcos


You know, when we feed our dogs, Daisy and Jolie,they do whatever is necessary to distract the humans and the other canine so they can steal the food of the other. They are not starving; they just want more. They are not really being mean. It is just their nature. They are animals. If we give them more food, they will keep eating more food until they cannot hold any more food in their stomachs and they will then vomit the whole kit and caboodle out. Then they want more food. They are not evil, they are just animals.

But when humans eat too much food, that  they then have to vomit out in order to eat more food, then we are not humans, we are animals. And when we devolve to animals, it is not our nature. It is our choosing evil over good.


define necessity


If you want to read good stuff on humans and animals read either C.S. Lewis or Jesus. Or both.

C.S. Lewis is famous for not only his theology concerning animals but also his vivid animal characters. There are many famous Lewis animals to choose from but some of my favorites include: Reepicheep, the heroic and noble mouse in The Chronicles of Narnia, who is more nobly human than many of that name. There is of course Aslan, the Christ figure (“He’s wild you know. Not like a tame lion.”)


And there is Eustace Clarence Scrubb (“There was a boy named Eustace Clarence Scrubb and he almost deserved it”.) Eustace is the boy who turns into the dragon (“Sleeping on a dragon’s hoard with greedy, dragonish thoughts in his heart, he had become a dragon himself.”) –and back into a boy in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Eustace only becomes human again when he allows Aslan to painfully rip off his dragon scales. (“It would be nice and fairly nearly true, to say that ‘from that time forth, Eustace was a different boy.’ To be strictly accurate, he began to be a different boy. He had relapses. There were still many days when he could be very tiresome. But most of those I shall not notice. The cure had begun.”)

Lewis understands that when we act like certain animals, we are sick, ill, insane and we need to be cured, reprogramed, healed. Lewis knows that it isn’t looking like an animal we need to worry about but acting like an animal.

Animals have no desire to be humans, did you ever notice that? I’m sorry but rather than teaching Koko sign language, we should be teaching people the language of love. Pets actually go a long way towards teaching us their love language if we let them. As A.A. Milne said in Winnie the Pooh, “Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That’s the problem.” Koko must have had a good laugh thinking we thought he wanted to be like us. He humored us.


Humans were created to instinctively know God’s language of love, but every time we listen to The Serpent and choose greed and selfishness over trust and love, we become like the animals in all the wrong ways. We can’t love our brothers as ourselves if we believe it is a “dog eat dog” world. Fyodor Dostoyevsky, like Raoul also compared people to animals: “People speak sometimes about the “bestial” cruelty of man, but that is terribly unjust and offensive to beasts, no animal could ever be so cruel as a man, so artfully, so artistically cruel.” Why do we choose death as a worldview and like true epicureans, eat our ways towards it when we could choose life and eat The Bread of Life and drink Living Water? If we can’t trust God’s love and care for us, and choose to live as fully and gloriously Human as we were created to be, with His Image in us – well, then I guess that ever since the Fall that has been a sort of Devolution if you will.

Jesus was pretty forthright in how he saw people and he saw many of them as the snakes that they were. He called the powerful religious and political leaders “vipers” and warned his disciples that when dealing with the vipers of this world, it is best to be as wily as one yourself.



Jesus loved comparing his followers to birds. While his disciples are encouraged to be a snake with snakes, they are also exhorted to remain as innocent as a dove. This is double entendre because not only are doves considered pacifists even in our time, but doves were the sacrifice of choice of the poor since they were plentiful and cheap or easy to catch. Jesus also assures us that as much as God loves a little helpless dodo of a birdbrain, he loves we silly, sometimes mindless creatures even more. God promises to care for us, just like we care for animals who can not protect or feed or care for themselves.

You may be thinking: Animal Soup, what is that? A Marx Brother’s film? Mexican Menudo? Chinese Shark Fin? (You do NOT want to know what kinds of animal soups there are – well, okay, google it but sit down first.)


The best known reference I know of to this idea of animal soup comes from the poem “Howl” by Allen Ginsberg. Ginsberg laments “ah, Carl, while you are not safe I am not safe, and now you’re really in the total animal soup of time (line 72). This is an analogy to the “primordial soup” used to describe the origins of life on earth. I like to think Ginsberg was critically thinking along my lines of thought in terms of the devolution of human beings.


“Howl” came out of Ginsberg’s life among the rejects and outcasts of the 20th Century, much as Jesus lived among the pariahs and lepers of the 1st Century. It includes Ginsberg’s poetic assessment of a friendship between two men who have gone mad because they have lost their connection to normal time and hence, normal humanity. They are in the “animal soup”.


Ginsberg also talks about animals when he calls part of “Howl”, “a lament for the Lamb in America with instances of remarkable lamb-like youths”. This is not a poem for the weak of heart or the sensitive to obscenity, but there is much to recommend you to this poem, which explores many biblical themes such as sacrifice, guilt, the downtrodden of society, holiness, and redemption.

Now here’s a fun game. What animal do you see Jesus as? C.S. Lewis saw The Christ as the Lion of Judah. Jesus is of course the “Lamb of God”. He was born in an animal stable. He compared himself to foxes who had holes while he did not even have an animal burrow to sleep in.

But do you know what other animal  Jesus compared himself to? A chicken.

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” Matthew 23:37



Perhaps you have seen the film “Fly Away Home”. It is a film about a young pre-teen whose mother dies and who has to go live with a father she has never known in a country she has never been. The girl finds some wild geese eggs with no mother. So she decides to become the mother of the geese. The baby goslings accept the girl as their mother and the girl eventually learns “to fly” to save the lives of the geese.

All babies must do what is known as “imprint” on a mother figure. We are fascinated by stories of different animals  who imprint on animals very different from themselves. It is a marvelous fact of how animals were created. Humans too. If you were adopted or have adopted children you know first hand that imprinting is real and if you were not loved as a child by your mother, then you know the lack of imprinting will effect your ability to be a whole, unbroken human for the rest of your life. There may always be a lost, abused animal living in your soul if you did not have a loving parent to model.

Jesus wants to be our mother hen. He wants us to accept Him, God on Earth, as our mother, our model for how to live. He learned to live like we do, so that we could learn to live as we were created to live. First Jesus imprinted with us. Jesus was born like us, learned to walk like us, and to talk like us with a hick accent and all. He studied like us and laughed like us. He was careful so he didn’t scare us away but he was firm when we were in danger. Jesus cried like us, was a friend like us and he suffered like us. And then Jesus died like us, with our sins imprinted in His hands.

Then Jesus said: “Now I’m asking you to let me imprint on you. Now would you like to learn to live forever like me? Would you like me to teach you how to fly?”

If Jesus is the image of the invisible God and He is also the image of humanity at it’s finest, then He is a mother hen I wouldn’t mind looking like. My prayer is “Jesus, help me let you imprint on me today.”

Fly away home



Things I Used To Know

Things I Used to Know

January 27, 2015

By Jane Tawel

Things I Used To Know:

I used to know:

  • My natural hair color
  • What most abbreviations meant
  • What I wanted to do when I grew up
  • That you could always bring a peanut butter sandwich to school.

I used to know:

  • The rules. And that if you tell people the rules, they will follow them. This included rules for driving, rules for classrooms, rules for pro-sports and rules for relationships.
  • There is only one way to be baptized for it to stick.
  • That nudity is only in X-rated movies
  • What time the news was on

I used to know:

  • That yoga is only for actors and Hindus
  • That there are no Hindus in America
  • That tattoos are for sailors
  • That if there is an old person, a pregnant person or a disabled person and you are a polite person, a kind person or just a normal person, you will give that old person, pregnant person or disabled person your seat.

I used to know:

  • That you could only run for president if you were a white man.
  • That sunburns looked cute.
  • That boys only married girls.

I used to know:

  • A lot of telephone numbers by heart.
  • That every thing was closed on Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter.
  • That a net was for tennis.
  • That app was a typo for a type of monkey.
  • That God was there to keep you from going to hell.
  • That hell was somewhere else.

I used to know:

  • How to roller skate backwards
  • Who lived in every house on my block
  • The words to Don McLean’s “American Pie”
  • When to stop eating because I wasn’t hungry any more.

I used to know:

  • To always carry quarters in my car
  • How to drive a stick shift
  • The difference between a trout and a bass
  • Every TV show on all four stations at 8:00 pm Thursday night
  • The call letters for all three radio stations

I used to know:

  • No one who had ever been on television
  • How to count back change from a twenty
  • French
  • Where to buy a half slip
  • Where my children were at midnight

I used to know:

  • That the best starting line up in the world was: Danny Ainge, Larry Bird, Dennis Johnson, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish.
  • What season you can get what fruits and vegetables
  • Why I was crying
  • Why I was laughing
  • That salt and spice don’t taste good when mixed with chocolate
  • That the pain would eventually go away
  • That there was nothing scary out there in the dark
  • That you never have to go it alone
  • That you have to share things like phones, hugs, TV’s, pizzas, feelings, warning signs, back car seats, front car seats, ideas, responsibility, guilt, wisdom, our planet, food, love.

But I know:

  • That I never want to say “Now You’re Just Somebody That I Used to Know”
  • That God knows my name
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
  • That you never know what tomorrow will bring
  • That Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen
  • I should’ve known better
  • To know you is to love you
  • Know your friends, know your enemies better
  • I Wanna Know What Love Is
  • I know I know so little.
  • I know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, the sheep of his pasture. For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Men Only! No Religion! Chick -Lit Invades the Cave!


Men Only! No Religion! Chick -Lit Invades the Cave!

January 25, 2015

 By Jane Tawel

 This posting is for my men followers. I have two: my husband, Raoul, and my friend Steve. Raoul has to follow my blog because he made me do it in the first place and he is still married to me. I have no idea why my friend, Steve, follows me but he does like extreme sports and has a very high pain tolerance.

About a month ago I wrote a short story and had dreams of publishing it in The New Yorker or something small like that. My husband read it and claimed, like God, that it was good and then told me I should submit it to, and I quote, “a women’s magazine or something”. Okay, at first I was offended, sure, but then I thought, why should I be offended that men think I write primarily for women. I mean women are the ones who use both sides of their brains right?

But since Chick-Lit has a limited audience, I decided to write this post for all my boys. Okay right there, you can tell I already messed up writing Dude-Lit. Because Dudes, Guys, Males do not like it at all if you call them “boys”. Using the word “boy” for a male is considered discriminatory. In fact using the Male form of the “B-word” is like using the Female form of the “B-word” which is a word tossed around like a badge of honor among women now but which frankly I loathe.

Using the “B-word” (Boys) for a man when you are not one, is exactly like using the “N-word”, when you are not one. If you are an “N” you can use it to your heart’s content and if you are not an “N” and you use the “N” word you are a racist. If you are a Guy, you can use the “B” word all you like, but if you are not, you are being demeaning. Frankly, I don’t like any one using the “N-word”, but I really do like calling my husband and son, “boys”. So sue me; I don’t have any money of my own anyway.

By the way if you ever, ever call me the “B-word” for women, I will punch you. Even if you are a woman –but especially if you are a boy.

If you are a woman and you are still reading this, you must leave now. But if you take a flashlight and go hide in a closet you can keep reading, okay?


Men think women want to have man-caves like they do. Men, I am going to share some special female secrets with you, okay? The only way women want a man-cave is if it has a Starbucks and a Sees Candy Shop inside. Also, if you ever invite us into your man-cave, we will know it is only because you do not want to pick up all the underwear lying on the floor yourself. We will not be fooled. Finally, if you ever do seduce us into the man cave, we will talk. And talk. And keep talking. We stopped grunting when we left the caves and moved into sweet little straw thatched huts. You have been fairly warned.

The only way in tarnation that I will be mentioning anything religious from here on in this post is if I reference the Crusades. Okay, I’m going to reference the Crusades.

Men need to fight stuff. They need to conquer. Hence, the Crusades. When they can’t conquer other countries, they are going to conquer other avatars. And if you are a woman in a closet with a flashlight right now, men need to keep feeling they are conquering you. See, men need to seek dragons, find dragons, fight dragons, and conquer dragons or die trying. Hence the term “Knights in Shining Armor”.

Now the Crusades ended, well, I’m not clear on the timeline but a while ago anyway. But boys still need to charge out into battle and fight dragons. Their dragons are rarely terrorists but sometimes they are I guess if you are a policeman or Navy Seal or Kindergarten teacher, but men have to fight something. Often when the man comes home tired from a day of looking for dragons he didn’t find, well, then the man sees you and well, you could be the dragon. Gals, You do not want to be the dragon in this situation.

Now we all know that young men want to conquer young women and that is often confusing when it comes to sex. See, when it comes to sex, men and women get kinda confused because frankly, raging hormones are as confusing as short selling. (I still think if Martha Stewart had been a man she would have beat that prison rap). So when it comes to the battle of sex and The Battle of the Sexes, both the man and the woman are wondering: Is she the dragon to conquer or is she the damsel that the young boy has the hots for and hence will lay the conquered dragon at her feet?

This damsel/ dragon equation never changes. So women in closets with flashlights, if you want to make a man happy you sort have to live a bi-polar existence as the Dragon Damsel or something like that. For instance, I realize that when my husband offers to rub my feet before having sex, it is not because he knows that pleases me but because my feet are the dragons. I play along as the damsel. My husband-boy rubs my stinky, calloused feet because he must conquer the dragons before he gets his conquest. He has gotten pretty darn fast at conquering my dragons, let me tell you.

But you have to be very, very careful with this dragon/ damsel thing because except for sex, women in closets with flashlights, you should never cast yourself as the dragon.

Men also need to conquer the dragons of conversations. I was confirming with a woman friend the other day that basically women like to build ideas and thereby build relationship when they talk. Men just like to win. Again,–dragons. So a woman may start various conversations that go something like:

#1: Woman: I’m so sorry but I disagree with your premise. Reagan, even when dead, would not make a better president than our current president.

Man: (Seems as if he did not hear but IN HIS MIND, says): I am right.

#2: Woman: What do you think of the existential worldview that the LA Times seems to be taking in its editorials these days?

Man:(Seems as if he did not hear but IN HIS MIND, says): I am right.

#3: Woman: Did you see that poor homeless man with the broken leg at Pavilion’s today? He was begging for money and I was reminded of a Charles Dickens story. I was wondering if we should go back and offer to take him to dinner or adopt him to come live with us.

Man: (Seems as if he did not hear but IN HIS MIND, says): I am right.

#4: Woman: Where are you going?

Man: Y

Woman: OH, good you need to work out to get rid of all that stress. How long are you going to be gone because I was thinking about having dinner ready in an hour? Do stir fry vegetables sound good again tonight? Are you doing the sauna after? Don’t forget your towel. Be careful with your back.

Man: (Seems as if he did not hear but IN HIS MIND, Says): I am right.

Man walks toward door.

Woman: Aren’t you forgetting something? You forgot to kiss me. Don’t you love me any more? Okay, fine. Just go ahead and go.

Man: (Seems as if he did not hear but IN HIS MIND, Says): Frankly, in his mind he is now thinking and saying absolutely nothing. The battle is starting without him.

Woman: Okay, have fun! Be safe! Have fun! Be safe!

Man is already gone. He is off to conquer the treadmill. The treadmill is his dragon. He will refuse to have fun. He will refuse to be safe. He will conquer.

See, in those conversations, the man is right every single time. He must be absolutely sure, steady, brave in battle, fearless, never doubting of his extremely fine skills – because otherwise, the dragon wins. If he doubts that he is in the right, then the man gets hurt or worse, dies and the dragon wins. Being right all the time means the dragon always loses.

See here is the problem. Men need to conquer dragons. If you argue him into a corner, or don’t leave his pride in tact, or you make his fights about you, well, then guess who is his dragon? You, “Little Miss I Am Woman Hear Me Roar”. You may never see him in battle with his dragon, but don’t mistake, his dragon is real. So when he slinks off at the end of the day to his man-cave, he may be licking his wounds. Just hand him some Neosporin through the cave opening and go back to your stir fry. And when he comes home and offers to rub your feet, then he has conquered his dragon. And he has come home to celebrate with you. That’s a full stop.

So now some of my women friends in the closet with flashlights are angry with me because I am making it seem as if Women are from Venus and Men are from Mars. (Holy Moley, don’t you wish you’d written that book?)

You know, I grew up in the Seventies and I am as much an “I Am Woman Hear Me Roar” kinda gal as the next chick. But, honestly when my son came out of the womb he was already completely different than the girls I had previously birthed. Oh, sure he popped out crying just like his three older sisters, but when he saw I was giving him sympathy for his cries, he clammed up immediately and wouldn’t talk to me for 10 months.

Women I’m not saying we shouldn’t argue with our boys, or that we aren’t basically usually always right. But men and women argue for different reasons. If you don’t go into battle understanding that, then both of you lose.

Okay, fair enough, not all men are the same and not all women are the same and hip, hip hurray we live in a country and time that it has gotten pretty darn mixed up at times in terms of gender appropriate behavior.

I really appreciate women with extra testosterone and as a matter of fact I appreciate the men who have an extra dollop of estrogen as well. We need these people in the Gender Wars. In The Beginning, Men were given extra testosterone and Women were given extra estrogen so they could use their hormonal imbalances to fight each other. We desperately need women and men with too much of the other’s hormone. In the great Gender Battles of our day, it is the testosterone -enhanced women and estrogen- enhanced men who run out on the battlefield waving little hormonal white flags, yelling, “Truce! Truce!” “Can’t we all just get along?”

This is why it is recommended in all Good Books, that a man and a woman stay married to each other for as long as they can possibly duke it out. Because after thirty years of marriage, his testosterone wanes and her estrogen waxes and they are basically just a contented, battle-scarred neutered couple of ex-prize fighters.

I have some Facebook friends who brag about all the sweet things their husbands do for them. Gag me with a javelin! My husband, I am proud to say, rarely does sweet things for me. He is busy fighting dragons! See men weren’t created to do sweet things. They were meant to go kill stuff or figure out other people’s taxes or teach Geometry and then come home with the kill and throw it at the woman’s feet. THEN, and only then, bloodied with red ink, blinded by computer back lighting, fingers aching from pencil pushing, and roaring throats sore with lecturing – THEN, after the woman has gushed and oohed and aahed – THEN, The Man is ready to show his softer side. Because he is a manly man and men who have conquered dragons all day, can come home and be a little bit sweet. It is not cute, it is an aberration in an otherwise battle-scarred hero.

So this is for my two battle-scarred heroes, facing yet another dragon today:

Raoul and Gordon, you are not my boys. You are my men. I owe you an apology. It has been a long time since I have thanked you for going out and conquering dragons. I am proud to claim you as the men in my life. You are brave in battle and fearless in your search for the monsters in our lives. You are wise even if you don’t talk much and you are sweet when no one is looking. I’m sorry I am rather limited in my Chick-Lit view of life, but I am glad you have both been patient in teaching me about Men. I won’t let on to you that I understand, or that I sometimes feel sorry for all the things you have to go through as men, or that I sometimes feel sad for how lonely it must be sometimes to be a man out there fighting dragons. I’ll try to be quiet sometimes when you need me to and I’ll keep trying to help you talk, because you need me to do that whether you will admit it or not.

Raoul and Gordon, thanks for riding out to win, yet again today. May your dragons be slain honorably and your battle scars heal well. I’ll be here, in the closet with my flashlight, reading some car manuals or battle plans or something and trying to get to know you boys, just a little bit better and love you a whole lot more.

Now get back out there in the fray, but come home safe to me, you hear?