Month: July 2015

Why You Should Care About Cecil the Lion

I wasn’t going to write a post on Cecil the Lion. As the daughter of a (literally) card-carrying National Rifle Association member who would not let her watch Bambi as a child, my opinions on these sorts of issues are not without bias. And as a general cynic, my typical reaction to basically anything trending on social media is, “What’s the big deal?”

But this time there’s the local interest angle—the hunter’s dentistry office is right down the street from where I live and work. So, here goes.

Keep in mind: I am completely against cruelty to animals, breaking the law, and spending $50,000 to go hunting.

Keep in mind: I am completely against cruelty to animals, breaking the law, and spending $50,000 to go hunting.

Recap: A Minnesota dentist paid a ridiculous amount of money to illegally shoot a lion as a trophy. A bunch of privileged Americans, including some celebrities, got really angry about this. Both ends of this story are a shiny safari of first world problems—a commentary on class and culture and what we value. Not since Mufasa have we been so collectively sad over a lion’s death. (more…)

The Danger of Nostalgia

Things I learned while cleaning out two boxes of memorabilia (aka personally significant junk) from my parent’s house:

  • Paper-doll ball gowns with a badly-colored American flag as the skirt emphasize the hips in a really unflattering way (or maybe that was my lack of fine motor skills involving scissors).
  • Mnemonic devices like “Every Violinist in Slovakia Easily Eats Cooked, Tough Zebra” are apparently really helpful when memorizing lists for tests.
  • Only the first ten pages of a journal/notebook really need to be filled up before moving on to the next one. That way, you can be as inefficient as possible.
In jr. high, I apparently made threatening notes to go along with fictional stories I was writing.

In jr. high, I apparently made threatening notes to go along with fictional stories I was writing.

Besides these profound revelations, as I made my way through the boxes, I kept thinking about this question: Is nostalgia a good or bad thing? I’m going to make a case for each.

Nostalgia is good.

I have to say, it was really fun to dig through those boxes. (“Hey, it’s that coded journal I’ve never been able to crack.” “Oh look, this is the music box I rigged with fishing wire to go off in an empty room when we played hide-and-seek in the church at midnight!”) There were pictures of people I am so thankful to have known, letters that made me tear up a little, and countless signs of a relatively happy and carefree childhood and teenage-hood (I say relatively because, you know, jr. high still happened). It may seem simplistic, but I believe things that bring joy are good gifts to be…well, enjoyed. (more…)

When You Want to Give Up on Our Culture

It started with a harmless email informing Taylor University students that, due to city maintenance, there would be no power on campus for several hours early in the morning.

Think about that for a second. College students had advance warning of a one-time event where no one would be able to hold them accountable for basically anything they did.

This was not going to end well.

A lovely recent picture of peaceful Taylor University.

A lovely recent picture of peaceful Taylor University.

The morning of the outage was marked by all kinds of chaos, from relatively harmless pranks (like guys running around in masks scaring people) to vandalism (including the baby Jesus disappearing from the campus nativity scene) to starting and jumping over a bonfire on the lawn…and fleeing when the fire department came.

Things didn’t get too out of hand, but it was not the proudest night in Taylor’s history, demonstrating the truth of 1 Thessalonians 5:7, “For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night, and those who act like complete idiots act like complete idiots on nights when there are scheduled power outages” (slightly revised by me).

This all happened several years before I showed up on campus, but I always think of the so-called Taylor Riots with just a little bit of pride. Because I when I think of them, I think of a different story.

The subject came up one day when I was eating lunch with residents of Gerig Hall. “Do you know where we were during the Taylor Riots?” one of the guys asked.

Don’t you love that? “We.” This guy wasn’t even at the college at the time, but he was claiming the actions of his dorm, passed down in lore from a previous generation. (more…)

Storytime with Amy: The Meaning of Life

When I was eleven, I pondered the purpose of existence after reading a story in a sixth grade reading textbook featuring talking food. As I recall, it took place in a fridge and involved a gang of rancid food angry about being shoved to the back and never eaten, who subsequently (I think) took out their rage on the good, non-spoiled food by kidnapping someone, possibly a female dairy product, who was then rescued.

The details of the story are a little fuzzy, much like the mold on some of the illustrated edible villains, but I do remember that as an eleven-year-old, it got me to contemplate this deep, philosophical question: does food want to be eaten?

Like, seriously, who would want to eat personified food?

Like, seriously, who would want to eat personified food?

My past experience with stories would lean toward the answer “no.” After all, in Beauty and the Beast, the furniture wants to turn back into humans, in 101 Dalmatians, the puppies don’t want to be made into a fur coat, and in Toy Story, the toys are trying to escape being thrown away and forgotten. People, animals, and personified inanimate objects all seemed to have the goal of escaping destruction. Why should food be any different? The story was wrong. The happiest foods should be the ones that have defied the odds by surviving their expiration dates, living long (and green) lives in the dark recesses of fridges and cabinets.

Except…that’s not why food was made. (more…)

Inside Out and Four Things to Be Sad About

I bet most audience members of the movie Inside Out were okay with the idea that Joy should be in charge. After all, we like to be happy. No religious belief can be true if it doesn’t match up with our internal smiley-face-meter. We shouldn’t have to do work we aren’t passionate about, stay in relationships that no longer serve us, or deny ourselves any desire or pleasure. Pretty much the entire world is telling us that our goal should be to be happy, happy, happy, all the time, even at the expense of others.

And who’s telling us that joy and sadness can, and should, exist at the same time?

Pretty much just Pixar and Jesus.

JoySadness

Long before Pixar made a delightful, whimsical movie about the emotions inside a little girl’s head, Jesus summed up the moral of the story this way: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

Joy, with her blue hair, twirly dress, and unflagging optimism, would stare at him and say, “Excuse me, what?” just like the rest of us. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized it’s true. Here are some things I think Christians should be sad about.

One: Sin

Often, I’m not really sad about my sin. I’m sorry for the results—for the look on someone’s face when I realize I hurt them, for the awkwardness when I’m sure a friend knows I lied, for the burning shame when I realize that, once again, I am making everything all about me. I’m even sorry for the distance I feel from God when I disobey him. But I don’t feel the weight of what my pride and pettiness and hypocrisy and angry outbursts and distortions of the truth really are: rebellion against God.

Paul was pretty hard on the Corinthians for their sin. In his follow-up letter to them, he says, “As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us.” Paul was excited that they were sad after reading his first letter, but not because he was a killjoy who wanted people to suffer. No, he was excited about the change. It seems that repentance only really happens when you are genuinely sad about what you’ve done wrong.

I need to have that reaction more often. (more…)