Sunday, April 29, 2007
Friday, April 27, 2007
I watch you--
Wiry muscles in miniature,
tightened and coiled like a spring,
ready to burst forth,
unravelling the pent-up energy in a joyful leap,
a spasm of gleeful laughter,
a ray of light bursting forth,
breaking the laws of nature,
unbound and untamed.
You are life's exclamation point!
All shouts and whoops and gleaming eyes.
No boring period or comma could express
the current surging through those veins.
A lightning bolt, slicing through grey clouds
jagged, powerful and alive.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Why do I blog?
1. It fills the time.
That isn't to say that I have tons of free time and have nothing better to do. Actually, my schedule is always helter skelter. I am frequently in and out of the house picking up kids from various schools with different schedules. Throw in the dog, the house, and the endless errands, cleaning, and planning that goes into creating a home and raising two rambunctious boys, and there isn't much time left. Usually, I blog or surf the net while I am in the middle of cooking and waiting for something to be done. I might update something while I am waiting for the laundry to finish drying, or for my son to complete his homework before I look it over. So, I spend a lot of time online, but it is usually in spurts here and there throughout the day. There are few other things that I can do in these brief time periods. If I am blogging and need to immediately stop, I can save it and finish it later.
2. I have enjoyed writing.
Even though my blog doesn't always delve into the deep issues of life, or brim over with incredible creativity, organizing and expressing my thoughts gives me a certain pleasure. It has been good practice and makes me want to improve my rusty writing skills.
3. I do it just for me.
It's fun to have a record of cute things that my kids said or did. Looking over old posts, remembering something that I had forgotten, is fun in a narcissistic kind of way.
So, why stop?
Well, there have been many times that I have started to blog about something and even gone so far as actually write the post, only to remember a prescient verse from Matthew.
"But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgement."(NKJV)
Does this mean that I am fearful that God is going to smash me into smithereens if I go too far off course? Not exactly. However, it does remind me that we are to weigh our words carefully. There is no good purpose to spouting off or going into the full-on "blog-vent" that seems to make up much of the blogosphere. It isn't beneficial to me or anybody else.
Also, anyone with a sitemeter or stat counter knows that wondering if you have an audience, and what brings the most visitors to your site, can become a little obsessive. Let's face it, everyone who blogs likes to get comments and wants other people to respond to their writing. Keeping in check the desire to write posts to attract visitors can be difficult. It seems self-aggrandizing. Plus, I hate marketing, hype, and self-promotion. So, when I feel this pernicious motivation sneak in, it makes my insides squeamish.
Blogging in and of itself has not diminished my spiritual life, but the accompanying drive to hope that people notice me, or like what I have to say, really plays into a set of desires that are not beneficial to me or spiritual life in general. The narcissism that can creep in is subtle, but very captivating. It becomes easy to let your thoughts dwell on this cyber-life that really isn't real.
So, I think I am going to take a few days off and re-evaluate what I want out of blogging and if I should even continue.
See you later.
Monday, April 23, 2007
I reached over and grabbed the Bible I hadn't touched since Sunday, cracked it open, and read:
It [salvation] does not, therefore depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy.
and later on
Romans 9 :30-32
What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone.
As I tried to quiet my discomfited soul, I turned to a verse that always reassures me when my spiritual life seems dry and brittle.
2 Timothy 2:13
If we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.
I breathed a sigh of relief as I remembered that God's love and patience is greater than my own. He can withstand my foolish stubbornness. He has not abandoned me despite my listless wanderings. Perfect obedience was not the key to His kingdom, and I was still a welcome citizen.
Thank you, God.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
It was obvious there was a tough crowd here.
Entering slowly, I saw the two perps with their beady little eyes shining. They bristled as I walked in, shifting nervously and exchanging worried looks. They were dressed only in their gang colors, bright blue and red Superman underwear.
"So, I got a call that there was some trouble in the neighborhood, " I said.
"No way, man. People, just trying to harass us. We're just hanging out, " the first perp said with outrage.
"What about you?" I said as I looked over perp number two.
"Well...He hurt me....by accident though!"
"Really? What happened?...a gangfight....a dispute over territory...was he disrespecting you?" I asked.
"Well, you see....I was over on his bed and..."
"Wait, did you just say you were on his bed during morning curfew hours?"
"I see. That's breaking law 342.1 of section B. Please....continue."
"OK. So, I was over there and we were wrestling...."
I interrupted him,"Oh so you were breaking law 56.99 of section A58 too...huh?"
"Um...yeah. Anyway, he made me bump my head on the dresser!"
Perp one spoke excitedly,"But he tried to grab me like this!!" He put his hands around his neck and squeezed. "He almost chokeded me!"
I gave perp two my sternest glare, "Is that right? Did you try and hurt him on purpose?"
He fidgeted nervously.
"Well...you see...it wasn't necessarily on purpose. I mean, my hands were there and all, but it was kind of like an accident."
"Oh, really? How exactly do you choke someone on accident?" I asked pointedly.
He hemmed and hawed for a minute.
"Like I said, it wasn't necessarily on accident....I mean....on purpose."
"Yeah, yeah. I think I've heard enough. You're going downtown. You've got one call. You better make it a good one!"
I loaded the suspect into the patrol car and booked him later in the day.
Solitary confinement, loss of electronic privileges.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
He is a lot like Archie Bunker; old, a little crotchety, and definitely not politically correct. He has a loud, gruff voice, bushy eyebrows and thinning hair. He always knows all the ways that public officials have screwed up and exactly how to solve the problems that so easily boggle their simpleton minds. If only more people were as practial as he, then this country would be great. That's his story and he's sticking to it.
I always worry about what I might have to censor from my young boys' ears. Surprisingly, he shows some restraint, mainly so I won't flog him with a wet noodle.
Despite my dad's many issues, I am thankful that he stopped by. The kids are always excited to see family and looked forward to playing Yahtzee with him. My youngest, with me as scorekeeper and Yahtzee consultant, trounced everyone with a high score of 433. Everything he rolled was perfect. Two yahtzees into the game, it was obvious where it was headed.
(If I was superstitious and actually believed in luck, I would have to say that he was dipped and rolled in it. I can't count how many times we have played board games with him and he will get the right card at just the right time, come from behind and kill us all. Maybe I should enter him in some illegal, underground, juniors-only, high stakes poker tournament. We could be living the high life!)
When I was growing up, all I could see were my parent's flaws. Even now, it is hard to see them unencumbered, free of the mounds of baggage chained to them. Seeing my children love them--unconditionally and with no preconceived notions--gives me peace. Innocent minds and innocent souls...may they always be so.
Friday, April 20, 2007
As I was getting the kids ready for school, I absently turned on the Today show and was instantly stopped in my tracks by an angry, ranting voice, shouting obscenities and threats. It was Alec Baldwin, screaming in a phone message to his daughter. She's only 11 or 12.
He called her a rude, little pig....no brains, no human decency...and on and on and on. He cursed at her frequently and threatened her.
Even though I am supposed to have the mind of Christ, it was difficult to remove the image of taking a baseball bat to Alec Baldwin's head. The disgust I have for the verbal abuse of a child is overwhelming. Scarring young people with hateful diatribes is like murdering their souls. Demeaning them; intimidating them; using your rage to crush them, are all marks of an egotistic, unstable, vengeful mind.
I was instantly brought back to a place in my childhood. The words and disdain spewed out by my mother's boyfriend were like battery acid, damaging anyone that was in the spray zone. Being awakened in the middle of the night to that same insane, type of yelling that only the truly angry, irrational mind seems capable of maintaining, was a regular event in my home.
I remembered things my mother had said to me when she was raging, usually about something else, but I quickly became the most available target.
God blessed me with an ability to withstand such idiocy and recognize that the words used against me were baseless, but sometimes they still stung. It wasn't the attacks, but the knowledge that someone who supposedly loved you could turn on you so viciously.
I dealt with all those demons many, many years ago. They have no power over me. I am a 33-year-old woman who is whole and healthy, mainly because of my relationship with God. He brought me out of that and assured me of my value to Him.
I hope that this girl never has to hear such sewage spewed at her again. And, I hope that someone will take this seriously and keep Mr. Baldwin and his phone messages far, far away from her.
Anger Management anyone?
Thursday, April 19, 2007
As a result, we hardly ever pay for movies.
My husband puts us on the list for all sorts of new releases at our public library. It's a great system. The only flaw is that each movie has it's own list of people waiting for it. Sometimes you might be 25 on the list, at other times, you might be 179. It just depends on the movie.
Every once in a while, the planets align and a deluge of movies comes cascading home in waves of rectangular, plastic, DVD boxes--all at the same time.
Our recent viewings:
Eragon-- I was the one who actually wanted to see this. My husband was not so enthusiastic and reminded me of a horribly slow, boring movie that I had picked for us to watch when we were newly married...A Fairy Story. Every time I pick something that brims with the possibility of being terrible, he groans and says " Gee....I wonder if it will be as good as A Fairy Story?" What can I say? It was a really awful movie that sucked two hours of our lives away. Such low expectations made Eragon seem pretty good to him. Actually the movie was good, but I definitely could tell that were all sorts of significant things in the movie that would have had more meaning to someone who had actually read the books. The film's ending is poised for a sequel, but I am unsure if it had enough box office success to warrant it.
Children Of Men--Being a Sci-Fi nerd, I was really looking forward to this futuristic movie. Unfortunately, it was a case of the trailer being more appealing than the actual movie. The film itself is a rather bleak, violent take on the future. I kept wanting to like it, but I couldn't overcome the stark, disjointed style of the film. It didn't draw me into actually caring about the characters. Very disappointed.
My Super Ex-Girlfriend--Warning! Do not...I repeat do not kill any remaining brain cells with this movie. It was dumb and overly sexual. We should have just turned it off, but we kept hoping it would get better. Apparently, the writers couldn't think of anything funnier than super-hero sex. I think this was my husband's, A Fairy Story....yep...definitely bad.
The Devil Wears Prada--This was actually quite a cute film. Oscar-worthy? Probably not. But it was amusing and enjoyable.
Happy Feet--We watched this with the kids. It was fun and had great animation. I wondered how much of the story the kids really got. I had to interpret a few things here and there for them, but they really liked it. Definitely worth a viewing.
Blood Diamond-- A very violent, compelling movie made even more compelling by the sheer fact that it represents true events, as far as diamond mining in Africa goes. Leonardo Di-Caprio really pulled off this performance. He was bad, but not too bad...that is for someone who kills about 20 people in the course of the film.
Ugh. I think I am set on my movie rations for a while.
Once again I entered a thread over at BlogHer regarding abortion and the latest ruling by the Supreme Court. Of course, the two main posts regarding the ruling were from a pro-choice perspective, and the commenters echoed the same opinions. I still am perplexed about why there are hardly any conservative contributing editors in the news category on the site. I can think of only one, but she only posts once in a while.
Of course, I have wondered the same thing aloud before in my post on abortion that also referenced BlogHer. I was reassured that there really are more conservative members on BlogHer, and yet I never see them post on anything that is remotely controversial. Is it out of fear that they say nothing? Is it simply a desire to avoid an argument? I'm not sure. So, there's nothing new there.
Why do I get roped into these discussions?
Mainly because I read all the viewpoints and rhetoric of the opposition and see no one offering logical, thought-out responses to them. I get tired of the one-sidedness of it all.
My question remains to those who are so outraged about the ban on partial birth abortion that was upheld by the supreme court. Is there ever a time, place or procedure that should be unacceptable for abortion? Are there ever circumstances in which abortion is viewed as wrong by the pro-choice community?
They keep telling me that they don't take abortion lightly, that they wish it didn't have to happen. They say that, but when pressed further refuse to agree that some abortion methods are too ghastly to perform.
The procedure which has been banned involves giving birth to a late-term baby until its head is still in the birth canal and then crushing its skull before the birth is finished. Another method covered by this ban involves dilating the cervix and literally dismembering the baby for removal. Their nervous systems are fully developed.
We don't even put down animals in such a brutal fashion. Why is it OK to end a human life in this manner?
It is like being for euthanasia and end-of-life decisions, but letting doctors club someone to death, or hack them up with a machete.
Yes, that's graphic wording and imagery, but unfortunately, it is truthful imagery.
Wake up people!
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
When I have fantasized about being wealthy enough to have a servant, the vision of someone happily cooking away in the kitchen hovers in my mind.
I used to enjoy cooking and had fun trying new things, but after almost seven years of staying at home, I'm over it. The time consuming task of food preparation, the actual cooking of it, and then the massive clean-up afterward gets very tedious.
But, considering that we live on a budget and I will never have an Alice, Hazel, or Mr. Belvedere to grace my modest kitchen with their culinary talents, the task is left to me.
So, tonight we will be dining on BBQ ribs done in the slow cooker, corn on the cob, and a fruit salad of fresh strawberries and bananas.
Simple foods for simple, cook-hating me.
In response to an interview question about infants already having a moral code within them when they are born, Hauser says:
"Studies have shown that infants as young as 15 months are sensitive to the
beliefs of others--true versus false beliefs. That's crucial to the moral
domain" (page 64)
His explanation for the this innate moral code is that it is a stabilizer of social groups that allows the individual to develop in a more fit, genetic way, advancing the evolution of the species. In explanation of the importance of the group he says:
"So if I live in a world of defectors, I have no chance, whereas if I can find the cooperators [others who abide by the moral code] and cooperate with them, my own individual fitness will be enhanced." (page 64)
The article goes on to explore Hauser's theories through several comparative examples about moral behavior and its subjectivity. Here is where the folly of this line of thinking quickly falls apart. The examples given are extremely arbitrary and poorly thought out. It only took me about five minutes to tease out the subtle differences between them, and I didn't need to spend years at Harvard to do it.
Religious beliefs, according to Hauser, do not have any impact on the moral decision making processes of people. From his standpoint, there is the evolutionary code and religious belief is simply the stories we make up to flesh out those innate codes.
What is interesting about his thought process is that it really leads to the core of evolutionary thought versus faith. It is a classic chicken and egg story. Are we moral because we were designed to be that way, or because as evolution transpired, it was a natural development?
If one believes that there is no God and evolution is a chaotic process with no driving factor, why should there be any morals?
The motto of evolution is "survival of the fittest." But, if one takes evolution at its face value, from whence comes consciousness and the desire to "survive"? In order to get somewhere you have to know where you are going and how to get there. There has to be a drive outside of oneself. In order to evolve into more complicated beings, living things would have to be able to predict the effect of increased competition from other forms of life, understand the necessity for biological innovation, and possess the physical stamina to outlast other life forms. Evolutionists make no claim that evolution is a conscious process--that somehow birds actually purpose to produce more prominent feather displays or produce more varied calls. It is simply a biological process that takes place at a genetic level with no thought or guidance.
I find it telling that the discovery that all humans have an innate, moral compass within them does not lead Hauser and others to question themselves more about the implications of such an idea. It seems as if it is easier for them to mold that discovery into their already determined view of the universe, rather than take it as a sign that there is more to life and being human than evolution can explain.
I have a lot more to say about this and want to examine the examples that were provided in the article, but I am out of time right now.
I will post more about this later today or tomorrow.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
There is nothing I could say to make sense of this heinous act because it is senseless.
Tragedies like this are so frightening because of their sheer randomness. As students awakened that morning, rushing to pull on some clothes, grabbing a coffee or soda, and rushing to catch those early morning classes, they could never know the darkness of one person's heart was about to envelop their campus.
I pray that God will bring comfort for the families of those who have perished. I pray that He will heal those who are wounded. I pray that He will bring others to support those whose lives have been irrevocably changed.
Remember them as you pray today. Lift them up each time you are reminded of this. Take a few moments to call out to God on their behalf.
Monday, April 16, 2007
She has turned out to be a good dog for us. She's good with the kids, never has accidents or destroys anything in our home. She has a lot of energy, but inside the house is relatively calm. She loves to fetch and can catch a ball in mid-air. She keeps the yard free from squirrels and stray cats, although they love to sit atop of our 6 foot privacy fence, tantalizingly out of her reach.
However, every time I take her to the vet, she embarrasses me. She pulls frantically at the leash, barks incessantly--setting off the dogs in the back of the clinic--and generally is a frenetic, neurotic nuisance. The vet always comments on how hyper and excitable she is. That's a nice way of saying she's a pest.
I try to convince him that she is only like that at the vet's office, but he's not buying what I'm selling. I swear it's true. She really isn't like this at home. He nods his head in doubtful agreement, busily filling out his paperwork willing to let me delude myself about the weirdness of my dog, in his opinion.
Once we get into the car to leave, my normal, cute dog is back. I look at her with barely suppressed irritation and remind myself that I don't care what other people think about me....or my dog.
Sunday, April 15, 2007
Oh yes, the glories of a good mother-in-law.
Having shuffled my two bundles of chaotic and unending energy up to the grandparents' house and then racing away like mad before grandma realized the folly of her choice to have them for the weekend, I enjoyed the long, calm, hour-and-a-half drive home. I cranked up the radio loud, knowing I wouldn't be interrupted every two minutes with questions about where the cattle go when it rains and what the billboard meant when it read Adult Superstore and why the clouds followed us as we drove? I wasn't responsible for anybody but me. I felt young again.
Upon arriving home, I met my husband at the door and we began laying plans for our 2 day vacation from responsibility. We gleefully rubbed our hands together filled with self-satisfaction at our happy circumstances. It was freeing.
We went out to dinner; we slept late; we played board games in candlelight while drinking sauvignon blanc--not too much. We laughed at each other's dumb jokes and spent 2 days without getting annoyed at, or irritated with, each other. I remembered that we used to have fun every day. Once. A long time ago. Just as a couple. In the BK era. (before kids)
Thanks, MIL, for the break. It was a great time for us. How 'bout we send them up next weekend too?
Saturday, April 14, 2007
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Assistant Village Idiot is one of the blogs that I read regularly. He posts intelligently about a wide range of topics and usually has some interesting things to say. However, I was disappointed by his post about the Don Imus affair and the weak defense along the lines of "Oh, Imus is just like that. It was just a joke."
Others have come to Imus' defense in the same roundabout way. They usually express the obligatory "that was a bad thing to say" but then proceed to rationalize the behavior, or at least minimize the prospect of serious consequences as a result of Imus' comments. Kathleen Parker's column is simply ridiculous about the subject. She admits that the comments were "repugnant, repulsive and horrible," as Imus has stated, and also racist; and yet, thinks that we should give him another shot.
Even worse, her column on the subject, Don Imus and The Via Dolorosa, compares his trials, indirectly, to Christ's. She mentions Imus' stations of the cross and giving him a shot at resurrection. Please, I could not think of a more inappropriate comparison. Somehow I can't imagine Jesus referring to his female followers as nappy headed 'hos. Whereas Jesus was innocent, Imus can hardly be seen in the same light.
The column focuses mainly on the racial aspects of the comments, but remains silent on the sexism expressed by the comments. If the players weren't black, and he had simply called them "'hos" that would have been just as bad. Women are not "'hos." Isn't it enough that we have to hear uneducated men refer to us in such a disrespectful way when walking past construction sites or hearing it blasted through car speakers as the latest rapper resorts to degrading women? Must we really pay someone a lot of money to voice such crude phrases and give them the technology to voice it across the entire country? At least if some idiot shouts it at you with his buddies hanging around thinking it's funny, it ends there. You don't have to hear it replayed across the news. The whole world doesn't have to take part in your attempted humiliation. (I say attempted, because we should not let the ignorance of other people shame us when they are the ones that should be shamed. )
What has left me spinning is one simple question. Why is anyone defending this guy? Is he really worthy of a defense? (OK...that's actually two questions)
The answer is absolutely not.
Words have power. They are a two-edged sword that can come back to cut you if you do not use them carefully and with the respect they deserve. If you are going to use them, then you should be willing to accept the responsibilities that come with them. Simply apologizing and prostrating yourself before the country in an attempt to save your job is not good enough. I highly doubt that Imus would have ever apologized if his remarks had gone unnoticed. His apology smacks of insincerity, fear of losing his job, and nothing more.
Stop defending him. The more contortions people make to excuse this behavior, the more offensive it becomes. Imus got himself into this mess with his own words; it is up to him clean it up.
Monday, April 09, 2007
The murky, grey tendrils of first light slowly pried their way through the cracks of the rough, wooden door.
Morning was here.
She slowly opened her eyes and stared toward the ceiling. Swollen eyes and a dull headache were the only assurances that she was awake and alive. She had chased sleep fruitlessly all night. Waking dreams and fitful periods of dozing had dominated her rest just as the night before. Fatigue had worn her down.
She pulled herself from despair and began to dress herself and prepare for the day, moving more quickly as her body fully wakened. Finally ready, she gatherd the jars and wrappings she would need and headed out.
As she made her way to the garden, unbidden images full of blood and viciousness assaulted her. She hated this world. It never changed. Just as before, her life had been ripped apart, betrayed by the lusts of men. Whether it was sex or power didn't matter, the result was the same.
Lost in her thoughts and swirling emotions, she stumbled forward in a haphazard way, sometimes stopping and holding her head in grief as a silent sob squeezed her insides. How could this be? How could this happen? He was the only one. The only one who ever cared for her. The only one who did not look upon her with disgust and hatred. And he was gone. And..oh God...the blood they ripped out of him. They....they beat and murdered him. Pinned him to a piece of wood, just like cruel children stripping the parts off a helpless fly.
She took a deep breath, steadied herself and entered the garden.
In the dim light, the view of the tomb filled her with dread. The stone had been pushed back, leaving a gaping hole of darkness leading into the tomb. Someone had desecrated the grave. Oh no. No, no, no, no! They took him! It wasn't enough for them to crush him in life, they humiliated him even in death. She ran to the tomb, stopping short of entering, too weak to look at the vast emptiness.
Weak with shock and weeping bitterly, she threw her things down and ran. She ran away from the pain, from the raw memory of Friday, from her own dashed hopes. She ran to the only people she could.
As the world raced by her in frantic lurches, she saw Peter and John coming down the path. She threw herself before them. "They took him!. He's gone! I...I...I don't know where he is," she spoke in short, painful breaths.
They looked at her wordlessly, realization creeping into their eyes. Without speaking they left her, running to the garden as she lay on the ground in a broken heap.
After the clutches of sorrow slowly loosened their grip, Mary pulled herself up and went after Peter. She saw Peter and John exiting the tomb as she arrived, no doubt on their way to report the news to everyone else. She walked to the entrance of the tomb and leaned against the stone, the cold, rough edges chilling her. Filled with resignation, she finally peered in.
She blinked for a moment as she saw two men, dressed in white, sitting where Jesus' body had lain. She didn't recognize them, but there were many followers she had never met before. They must be here to mourn him.
"Woman.....why are you crying?" they asked.
"They took him," she whispered hoarsely, "and I don't know what they've done with him."
Exhausted, she turned and decided to go home. She could do nothing more today. Wiping her eyes, she left the tomb, nearly running into another man; probably another follower, or maybe even the gardener.
"Woman," he said, "why are you crying?"
He probably knew where they had put him. Maybe he would pity her and help.
"Please...please if you have moved him, tell me. Tell me where he is. I'll bring him back myself. Please, just tell me where he is!!" she sobbed.
"Mary," he said.
How did he know her? She paused and looked up at him.
It couldn't be, could it? No. She was just delirious. She saw him lowered from the cross, lifeless and limp. She saw him wrapped in linens, and placed in the tomb. She heard him cry out with his last breath. It just couldn't be.
But, as those painful memories played and replayed within her mind, they began to be pushed out by other memories. Blind men seeing...lame men walking...and Lazarus....oh yes...Lazarus....how could she have forgotten!?
"Rabboni!" she screamed in delight. She wept again, but this time in joy and relief. He's alive! HE's ALIVE!! They couldn't take him! They didn't win!
Waves of elation poured over her as all the pain of the last few days melted in the warmth of her savior's voice. She knew that He would never again be lifeless and cold. He had defeated the evil that had been intended for him. She wrapped him in a tight embrace, filled with the bliss of hope fulfilled.
I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.
Friday, April 06, 2007
But as Tevye, one of my favorite movie characters, would say, "On the other hand..."
Last night's movie was the perfect jumping off point to Good Friday. A story of persecution, suffering, and prevailing against the odds had been stripped of all its meaning, forced into a mold of what "Christian" entertainment and ideals should be. At every point, the story had been sanitized. Esther was not being forced into a harem, she wanted to be there. The king was not a brute, but a romantic lover. The peril of Esther was nominal at best.
The urge to erase suffering from our lives is a natural impulse. It's not fun. It's painful. It makes us question ourselves and our beliefs.
We serve a great and mighty God, creator of Heaven and Earth, powerful enough to provide a way through the deserts of our lives. He is more than able to handle our puny disappointments and heartaches. And yet, so often He chooses and even compels us to walk the rugged, desolate paths of the wilderness.
Today, we reflect on the suffering that Christ bore for us. There is no Hollywood rescue scene for Christ. Pontius Pilate doesn't race to the cross with a last-minute pardon from Caesar. We don't see an envoy reaching Him a millisecond before the first nail is driven through his body, stopping the execution just in time. No. There is only the expected end to a day of torture, beatings, insults, and disdain. There is no relief as Jesus is lifted up and blood slowly drains from his veins, flowing into little pools in the sand, no relief from the hot sun blazing upon him, no relief from the taunts of the crowd or the pain of His followers. There is only suffering--an exacting of excruciating pain from an innocent man.
As His followers went home at the end of this tragic day, sorrow and despair were their only companions. No hope. No leader. No happy ending.
So, before we get to the joy of Easter and all that it portends, we must find the purpose of our suffering. For surely, suffering always has its purpose. Without truly comprehending the desperate situation before us, we can never appreciate what's coming next. just around the corner. in a few days time.
Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer....
Last night my husband and I plopped in front of the TV to watch One Night With The King, a movie based on the book of Esther in the Old Testament of the Bible.
Normally, I avoid Christian-made movies, which is a little odd considering that I am an evangelical Christian. They usually fall flat, have bad acting, and are too obvious with their approach to the material.
Knowing my usual reaction to these types of films, I hoped against hope that maybe this movie would get it right. It had actually been released in the movie theaters and had an appealing trailer. Maybe, just maybe they could pull it off.
Yes and no.
The costumes were sumptuous, the computer-generated effects were good, and even some of the director's artistic shots were creative and appealing. However, the problem with the movie wasn't the actors, the shooting, or even the director. Instead, the script failed on several levels. There was lots of fluff and not much "true" substance to the movie. That is not to say that the movie is inaccurate in its rendering of the biblical story. In fact, there are several moments that are lifted, verbatim, from the book of Esther. The trouble arises in the interpretation and spirit of the movie. They got the words right, but the point wrong.
One Night With The King is the Disneyfied, Hollywoodized version of Esther. While watching the film, I kept having images of Ariel and Belle from The Little Mermaid and Beauty And The Beast. Esther is consistently portrayed as a smart, spunky, independent girl who dreams of being queen of Persia and also dreams of returning to Jerusalem, the place of her people's birth--two vastly different motivations that would have been in conflict with each other, yet the filmmakers don't seem to pick up on the illogicity of this depiction. They can't have it both ways. She is either very nationalistic and proud of her Jewish heritage, or she is only minorly attached to it and has dreams of being queen of a pagan empire.
As part if the disneyfication process, King Xerxes and Esther fall madly in love with each other. It's all very romantic. So, why do I care? Well, it undercuts the entire point of the book of Esther. Esther was a woman who was herded into a harem, away from the only family she knew, chosen by the King with no say in the matter for herself. As the queen she would have had more privileges than the average woman, but she still would have been subject to the whims of the king. She would not have been wandering about on her own, unescorted, investigating Haman, and having secret meetings with Mordecai. Expressing her opinion on political matters and being "in charge" of the kingdom while Xerxes is away is simply laughable. She would have been put to death for such scandalous behavior.
In order to fully appreciate the predicament of Esther, the audience must fear King Xerxes. They must know that he could put anyone to death at any time. He can't be a weak king who is unsure of what he should do, constantly consulting advisers, as he is portrayed in the movie. He must be a strong, decisive king who could be ruthless if he so chooses. Sure he could have romantic interest in Esther, but it should always be tempered by the power that he held and the certainty of its use. When Esther approaches the king, the audience should be filled with fear for her. The attempt to conventionalize the love story in modern day terms undercuts that purpose. We don't worry for Esther because there is no need to. The movie has already revealed that the king is crazy about her and set up expectations of a "happy" ending. It ruins the film.
Last but not least, the film is filled with extraneous plot devices and coincidences. Esther owns a special necklace that reveals a Davidic star when it is illuminated by a flame. The necklace keeps appearing and disappearing and is endowed with all these special meanings. It is very cheesy and unnecessary. Coincidences abound as it just so happens, in the movie, that Haman is the murderer of Esther's parents. He dislikes Queen Esther and is suspicious of her. However, in the biblical story he is excited to be invited to her banquet and wants nothing but her royal favor. He is a political opportunist who would never spurn the king or queen directly. He lives for political notice and approval.
In the movie, at the critical point, when Esther reveals her Jewish heritage and persuades the king to oppose Haman's hatred of the Jews, Haman actually assaults the Queen. He is in the process of strangling her when the king--in a perfectly Hollywood way--comes to her rescue. In the Bible, Haman begs Queen Esther for his life. The king sees Haman on the couch where Esther is reclining, thinks he is making advances towards her and instantly orders him to be put to death. That is the ruthlessness of the king. Hang first, ask questions later.
It's a shame that a poor script ruined a good opportunity. The movie had enough money behind it and talented actors to actually have been good. It's disappointing that the script failed in so many ways.
Thursday, April 05, 2007
You, On A Diet focuses most of its attention on eating correctly in order to get your body to function better and more naturally and easily lose weight. Avoiding sugar and, more importantly, high fructose corn syrup is emphasized as essential to getting your body's blood sugar and hormonal output to regulate itself more efficiently.
That, my friends, is where I have stalled out. I think I can finally admit this now.
Hi. I'm Terri and I'm a sugarholic.
It all started when I was a wee child being lured behind the bleachers to partake in an illegal Hostess cupcake. Or, maybe it was those school fundraisers that require you to take home a case of M&M's to sell. I lost a lot of my allowance in that deal.
Either way, I slowly evolved into a sugar fiend looking for my next hit. I spiralled into deviant behavior, stealing Halloween candy from my kids, saving the bigger piece of cake for myself, hocking my future health for a quick candy bar high.
I would tell myself all the normal lies:
- I can stop any time...really.
- It's not my fault.
- I will never eat a whole bag of Chips Ahoy again.
- Problem? I don't have a problem.
- I'll do better tomorrow.
- It's not that big of a deal.
The problem with a sugar addiction is that everyone's always a dealer. They don't hide in back alleys or dark parking lots quickly handing you a bag of pure cane sugar as you nervously throw cash at them. Instead, they show up at family gatherings, church functions, and school "parties" that are really just mini-recruitment seminars for new addicts and dealers. Every holiday becomes a bender as I freebase chocolate, jelly beans, or Christmas cookies. It's a dark, dark world people.I keep waiting for them to make a gripping, Oscar-winning movie about the suburban housewife's life and death struggle with this vicious demon. Heck, I'd watch it....as I long as I got to eat some Milk Duds in the blackness of the movie theater.
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
How could I possibly have enough to fill 104 blog posts?
I'm not sure, but I think it has something to do with a famous quote about Shakespeare, a million monkeys, a million typewriters, and a million years....except I have a computer--not a typewriter..and my hygiene is hopefully a little better than a monkey's. It hasn't been a million years, but then again, it's not exactly Shakespeare either.
YOO-HOO!!! YAY!!! HOORAY!!!....OK...I think that's enough celebrating.
So, my nonexistent, silent readership, thanks for sticking around.
This past week, I picked up The Catcher In The Rye, by J.D. Salinger. Somehow I made it all the way through high school and college without actually reading the book. I wasn't even sure what it was about. After all, what the heck does "catcher in the rye " mean anyway? I had no context for the title or what hidden meanings it might have. All I knew was that sometimes it was considered a controversial book, but I still didn't know why.
Holden Caufield, the adolescent protagonist of the book, narrates a period of a few days that begins when he leaves the latest boarding school which has kicked him out. We follow his story from school back to his home through a series of stream-of-consciousness narrations that meander from one thought to the next in Holden's adolescent, slang and profanity-filled voice. (I am assuming all the swear words are the main reason for being censored in some schools.)
While reading the book, I kept waiting to unravel some particular point that Salinger was trying to make. A few things came through; the phoniness of people, the uncertainty of sex that pops up frequently for Holden, and the confusion and lostness of the adolescent. However, I was left at the end of the book trying to figure out what exactly Salinger's point is. The only thing I with which I could come up was that Salinger was trying to make the anti-point--lots of words and digressions that aren't unified and don't have any overall connectedness to each other.
OK, Salinger...what's your point? I laughed when I read a review that basically called Catcher In The Rye one of the worst novels ever written. I could appreciate some of what Salinger had to share, but have to agree that, for the most part, the book is much ado about nothing.
"You don't care to have somebody stick to the point when he tells you
something?" [Mr Antolini to Holden]
"Oh sure!I like somebody to stick to the point and all. But I don't
like them to stick too much to the point. I guess I don't like it
when somebody sticks to the point all the time." [Holden] pp 183
P. S. "catcher in the rye" refers to a children's song/rhyme that is briefly used in the course of the book. It is dealt with, only briefly, when Holden says that he would want to be a catcher in the rye, catching all the little children that might accidently fall off a cliff that is near to where they are playing. Holden's sister, Phoebe, corrects Holden's misqoute and reminds him it is a Robert Burns poem.
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
J2, smiling,: "Say where something is."
J2: "Say where something is."
Me: "I don't understand what you mean."
J2 : " Ask where something is."
Me: "OK....sure...Where's my shoe?"
J2, giggling: "Under there."
Me, a little puzzled, : "OK....hmm."
J2 : " Now ask me where....I mean after I tell you...ask me where."
Me: "OK...where is my shoe?"
J2: " Under there," pointing away from himself.
Me: "Under where?"
J2, cracking up,: "hehehe...I made you say underwear!"
Yep. I sure am happy that he is learning so much in pre-K.
Monday, April 02, 2007
The truth is that about two years ago we had to leave a church that we dearly loved and felt deeply connected with. It's a long, complicated story that I have begun to write many times before, but never had the strength to finish and post. I would need pages without end and oceans of words to express the repercussions that have torn through my spirit like a tsunami, leaving a shoreline of splintered devastation in desperate need of rebuilding. I will save that story for a time when I am more prepared to share it.
However, I can say that in the wake of all the inner turmoil I experienced, I did my best to withdraw from God, and other Christians. I didn't turn my back on Him, but I mentally excluded myself from thinking too deeply about life, spiritual issues, and all things church-related. Our family settled into a different church that is OK, but hasn't really nourished my soul. That is probably more of reflection on me than on the church.
Regardless, I have been living my spiritual life on auto-pilot. I have seen God provide for us and know that He is still there, but I have felt apathetic, passionless, and just a wee bit (maybe more than a wee bit) cynical. I know it's wrong. I don't like it when I get this way.
While I was driving, it occurred to me that I had slipped into the very bad habit of not thinking about or even asking God for direction in my life. I wasn't living with Him as my main motivation and source. Some of that has come from just being a busy mom who is always enacting plan B in the face of constantly changing circumstances. But, some of it has happened as I have withdrawn from the serious contemplation of my spiritual life.
The pain of what happened has kept me from attempting to delve too deeply into the waters. I am afraid of what lurks in the waters' depths because occasionally, a shark has brushed up against me...an invader of God's plentiful waters. I have a few bite marks on my soul.
In a brief moment I sensed how much I had lost, not just in community, but in the very essence of my being. I mourned briefly as I arrived where I was going.
Now, I simply wait. I wait for healing. I wait for renewal. I wait for God's grace to wash over me and lead me back to peace.
Come quickly, Lord.
A while ago, I blogged about being at Wal-Mart and seeing a woman putting down the beer bottle she was drinking from as she pulled into the parking lot.
This past Friday I had a flashback to all the Cheech and Chong movies that my mother and her second husband used to watch in the early 80's.(it's better not to ask) As I exited my neighborhood, a beat up Honda Civic pulled out in front of me in a hazy cloud of smoke. Beat-up, old car, lots of bluish smoke--that doesn't sound so strange. It wouldn't have been if the smoke had been coming from the tailpipe. But no, as I stopped at the light in the next lane over, I could clearly see a fortyish man with with a scraggly pony tail sticking out from his doo-rag and either the smallest cigarette known to man, or a joint. Being suspicious and untrusting in nature, I immediately assumed the latter and then felt bad about my snap judgement. That is until the very distinct smell of pot filtered through the AC vents of my car.
Yes. This man was smoking pot. As he drove. In full daylight. With the windows open. For all to see.
Once again I was in the situation of observing something very stupid and potentially life-threatening on the road. I would have called someone if I could, but who can you call? I could have taken down the license plate number and called later, but by then the behavior would be over and the police would have no evidence. I am not sure that they would even bother to track down the person and investigate. Some crimes have to be caught in the process of being committed.
Tomorrow I am going to call the local police department and see what they have to say about what to do in these situations.