Month: July 2014

For Everyone Who Hates Goodbyes

Yesterday, I had a flash of inspiration and realized what my problem is.

Thank you to all of my “friends” snorting and saying, “Which one?” right now. I appreciate you. But, to answer your question, I realized what causes my vague dislike of technology and the pride I take in doing things “the old-fashioned way.”

I am a letter girl in a postcard world.

Maybe you can summarize novels in tweets and find out how someone is really doing via texting and construct a vague sketch of someone based on the detritus of likes and posts and favorites they leave in their wake as they sweep over Internet-land.

But…why would you want to?

Facebook

I know there are good answers. I know there are many benefits to being connected through social media, and I love and hate Facebook, Skype, and email for the same reason: for giving me the illusion that the distant is actually close. (more…)

Forgive Me, Facebook, For I Have Sinned

If I were starting my own religion, it would look an awful lot like social media. (Have I thought about this? Yes. Is this actually on my To-Do list? No.) Think about it: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and all of their friends give us a space where we can:

  • Express our emotions, both positive and negative.
  • Discuss issues that matter to us.
  • Talk to people we don’t see on a day-to-day basis.
  • Connect with others who share a common interest.
  • Have a sense that our community is universal and not bound by distance.
  • Confess (or brag about) the stupid things we do.
I mean, they even call the buttons "icons." If that isn't religious lingo, I don't know what is.

I mean, they even call the buttons “icons.” If that isn’t religious lingo, I don’t know what is.

In a time when many in my generation are becoming more spiritual but less religious, social media seems like a good stand-in for the community you could at one time only get through the church. (more…)

Five Debates I Want To See

Was I the only one who thought the debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye was a joke the first time I heard about it? Seriously, I checked the link to see if it was from The Onion.

Thoughts on the Ken Ham Bill Nye Debate

Here are a few match-ups that I would be more excited than that one (although most of them actually couldn’t actually happen).

Susan Pevensie vs. Lucy Pevensie (as adults)

Topic: Magic, imagination, and how we determine our beliefs.

Why: Was I surprised when Susan didn’t show up in The Last Battle? No. Would I just love to listen in to a conversation between the two sisters about faith and doubt? Oh yes, a hundred times yes. Susan, I think, is smarter than we give her credit for. It’s entirely possible Lucy might start crying a few times, but bringing in the boys might turn it into more of a debate. People would get mad. No one would change their minds. Someone might get challenged to a duel. Let’s just keep it to the girls. (If it has to be Susan vs. a character from another book, I’d like to see her chat with Meg Murry from A Wrinkle in Time.)

Javert vs. Paul

Topic: Justice and mercy

Why: I feel like these two would have a lot in common, personality-wise. And someone, someone needs to explain to Javert (and maybe, actually, most Christians) that it has never been justice vs. mercy, as if they were pulling in two opposite, conflicting directions. Justice often takes the form of punishment in a fallen world, but it is, I believe, meant to be restorative, not punitive—to fix a relationship. Which is the same goal as mercy, and why God can be both merciful and just. If our good inspector understood this, maybe Javert’s story wouldn’t have ended the way it did. (more…)

When Bad Guys Aren’t Bad, Part Two

(For Part One, go here.)

Maleficent

People have been talking about Maleficent as a story about “redemption.” And, I think, well…maybe? Sort of? At one point, she recognizes that her hatred and revenge have resulted in losing someone she loves, which she clearly regrets. And she is willing to risk her own life to save Aurora.

But I still felt that the story was missing…something.

To figure out what it was, I went to three of my favorite tragic villains to see why their stories resonated with me more than Maleficent’s.

Dr. Horrible, from Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog

Horrible

Character: An evil villain everyman who just wants to be a success and win his dream girl away from an arrogant, sleazy superhero.

Redemption: Doesn’t really take place here. Dr. Horrible may want to conquer the world to set things right, but if we’re still cheering for him by the end, it’s because we remember the awkwardly adorable guy he once was.

Consequences of Actions: I won’t go into detail here, but there’s the reason this miniseries calls itself a “tragicomedy”: the ending is tragic. There have been lots of songs that include lines about getting everything you ever wanted and realizing it doesn’t satisfy. But the last song of the musical, “Everything You Ever” is haunting because it doesn’t ever even finish that phrase. The chorus just drops off: “Everything you ever…” And it makes you ask, Did you want it, really? Was it worth it? Would you go back and change it if you could? And as the audience, of course we want a different ending, but it’s the only thing that could have happened. In some movies, we root for the person trying to get revenge (*cough* Princess Bride), but with Dr. Horrible, we see what happens to even a likeable guy who is consumed with vengeance and ambition.

Where it Beats Maleficent: Depiction of real consequences of doing evil things. Unlike Dr. Horrible, Maleficent never had to face any lasting consequences of her (actually really awful) actions. Instead, she got the perfect happy ending of many Disney princesses, and it just didn’t feel right or, maybe more to the point, realistic.

(more…)

When Bad Guys Aren’t Bad, Part One

The first time I played with Legos was when I was nineteen years old. (Seriously, who knew little plastic bricks could be so fun? I mean, besides everyone else in the world except me.)

I've only actually seen the original three movies, so any plot involving clones was out.

I’ve only actually seen the original three movies, so any plot involving clones was out.

With the help of a six-year-old Star Wars expert, I reconstructed basically everything but the Death Star. At one point in our epic story, the rebels had captured a few stormtroopers and sent a message back to Darth Vader and company.

“We have your minions,” I said, moving my little Luke Skywalker guy as he talked. “If you don’t surrender, we’ll kill them all!”

Seconds after this left my mouth, I realized it might be a little dark for a first grader. But he, Darth Vader in hand, was looking at me like I was the dumbest creature since Jar Jar Binks. “That’s not going to work,” he said. (more…)

Why I Won’t Despair for Christian Art (Yet)

“Sometimes I have loved the peacefulness of an ordinary Sunday. It is like standing in a newly planted garden after a warm rain. You can feel the silent and invisible life.”

This is one of many lines in Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead that I thought was beautiful . . . and I found another writer who agrees with me, and who wrote a much more legitimate and literary tribute to the book than you’ll find here.

Seriously, guys, go read this book. Like, right now.

Seriously, guys, go read this book. Like, right now.

Interestingly, the author describes himself as “more or less a fully paid-up atheist,” but he praises the beauty of this novel—which is the fictional first-person memoir of an old preacher—and says he is more drawn to Robinson’s writings than that of the New Atheist crowd.

Here’s why, in his words: “She makes an atheist reader like myself capable of identifying with the sense of a fallen world that is filled with pain and sadness but also suffused with divine grace. Robinson is a Calvinist, but her spiritual sensibility is richly inclusive and non-dogmatic. There’s little talk about sin or damnation in her writing, but a lot about forgiveness and tolerance and kindness. Hers is the sort of Christianity, I suppose, that Christ could probably get behind.”

He concludes, “I’ll never share her way of seeing and thinking about the world and our place in it, but her writing has shown me the value and beauty of these perspectives.” And then, “This is not the kind of voice I normally associate with religious people, and it makes me wonder whether we might not be listening to the wrong voices.”

And oh, this gives me hope, friends. Because if at least some people are listening more to Marilynne Robinson than Pat or even Phil Roberston to get their picture of what it means to be a Christian, then maybe there will be something compelling and redemptive in the popular conception of our faith after all. (more…)

To All the People Pleasers

This is for the ones who understand the idea of “saying no” in theory, but not always in practice.

For the ones who can still remember insults and accidentally overheard jabs from years ago even when the compliments have faded.

For the ones who think of perfectly-phrased comebacks and condolences two days later—while still rehearsing over and over what they should have said.

For the ones who hide the generic soap and toilet paper and bring out the Bath and Body Works and Charmin’ UltraSoft when company comes over.

People pleasing 2

We are the people pleasers: the few, the proud (in all the wrong ways), the overcommitted and overachieving and fearful. (more…)