Month: May 2016

When You’re Afraid You Don’t Matter

When I was a freshman in college, there were small vases of flowers on every one of the hundreds of tables in our Dining Commons. One particular guys’ floor enjoyed finding couples on a lunch date and casually placing dozens of the vases, one by one, on the table between them before walking away, whistling cheerfully.

Flowers

Besides that little prank, I didn’t see much purpose behind the flowers. When I asked why they were changed out every week, the upperclassmen told me a Taylor University alumni couple had left a fund in their will that specified a certain amount of money to be used exclusively for flowers in the dining hall.

Not financial aid. Not a building fund. Not artwork or landscaping or some other campus feature with a gold plaque bearing their names and a message to be remembered by.

Nineteen-year-old Amy was not impressed. While I thought the flowers were pretty, being a thrifty (read: cheap) person, I rolled my eyes at the waste of money. If we only had flowers on special occasions, like Christmas or graduation, we’d appreciate them more, I reasoned, and it would save a lot of money that could go toward more important things. And if it had to be flowers, why not plant a garden? These flowers just kept on dying, kept on needing to be replaced.

They didn’t last. Not the individual flowers and not the money in the fund, which ran out during my sophomore year. What good is a legacy that doesn’t last? I wondered. (more…)

Hobbit Birthday Party!

It has already been established that I am basically a hobbit.

Today is my birthday, so I decided I should celebrate my birthday like one, too. Which unfortunately does not include a trip to the Shire, but will involve lots of po-ta-toes and music and laughter and going barefoot.

Birthday

As hobbit tradition goes, the birthday celebrator does the gift-giving. Since you, friends and blog readers, mostly live in all corners of Not-Middle-Earth, I decided to virtually “give” you some amusing or useful things on the Internet.

Feel free to “open” whichever character’s “gift” most corresponds to your personality. Or just whichever one seems interesting.

Also, if you just want more Lord of the Rings, here are a few posts that involve Middle Earth in some way.

Party!
Sauron: Because he is evil…but could use some strategy pointers.

Gollum: Because he is really just misunderstood.

Arwen: Because she is a princess and pretty, but not super practical.

Gandalf: Because he is smarter than you in basically every area and manages to pull it off without you actually hating him.

Legolas: Because he reminds me of somewhat-melancholy music, particularly the cello.

Saruman: Because he is consistent, smart, and kind of a jerk sometimes.

Pippin: Because he thinks you need people of intelligence on this mission…quest…thing.

Eowyn: Because she is an interesting female character struggling with strict social conventions.

Enjoy, and feel free to comment with your own suggestions if you like. In the meantime, I’m going on an adventure!

Love the Hard People

I recently watched Edward Scissorhands for the first time and was shocked to find out that it is not actually a slice-and-dice horror flick where everyone dies, painfully mutilated, at the end.

So, basically, it exceeded my expectations.

WARNING: Spoilers ahead. (And not the fate of the butterfly. I'm really not sure what happened to it.)

WARNING: Spoilers ahead. (And not the fate of the butterfly. I’m really not sure what happened to the butterfly.)

The actual plot of the movie is more like this: an ultra-nice suburban housewife name Peg discovers an abandoned young man­…who was created by an eccentric inventor with scissors for hands. Understandably frightened, she backs away, saying, “I’ll just be going now…”

And Edward (the most adorable knife-adorned teenager you’ll ever meet) says, “Don’t go.”

And she doesn’t—for a while. The whole community “welcomes” Edward, according to the IMDB plot summary, which is true only if your idea of a rousing welcome involves gushing over a person’s freakishness, using him for your personal gain, trying to fix him, and loving him only as long as it’s convenient. (Spoiler: it gets inconvenient really quickly—Peg ends up deciding it’s best for Edward to return to his home in the abandoned mansion.) (more…)

On Being a Woman

With Mother’s Day approaching, I decided I wanted to write a post about what it means to be a woman—what I appreciate about the amazing women around me and throughout history, not just my own mother.

It was harder than I thought.

For example, when I was younger, I saw the way other women could persuade—how they acknowledged the emotions that went into the argument, saw things from both sides, and were gracious even in disagreement. The space they left so that even the most stubborn in the room could back down or change their minds. The way they crafted words with such care that sometimes those on the “other side” didn’t even realize they were nodding in agreement. And I thought, I want to be that someday. I want to be a peacemaker, to be gracious in my conviction.

And then I read articles making fun of highly-exaggerated “woman-in-a-meeting” talk, and I realized that maybe even the times when I was intentionally choosing to be less forceful were really just subconscious nods to the patriarchy.

Bummer. (more…)

Don’t Put Acceptance First

So, bathrooms. Target. You might have heard people talking about this recently, like, everywhere. People focusing on practical safety issues, people pointing out the need to be more aware of violence against women in general, people trying to work out the complicated relationship between the Christian faith and issues of gender and sexuality.

Target

I’m not one of those people. They are significantly smarter than me, and I think everything I’d say about those things has already been said. Loudly. Many times.

Don’t worry, guys, I figured out a while ago that I can’t solve the problems of the world and I don’t actually know everything. This is just one twenty-something’s take on the aspect of this issue that is most interesting to me: why Target specifically and the American culture in general wants so badly to be seen as inclusive.

Call me cynical, but the nods of brands and companies to the LGBT (plus any other letters that are appropriate to add, I can’t keep up) community seem to be motivated by profit. Or, to put it another way, it is currently really, really cool to be inclusive and welcoming. Even those who would identify as straight and cisgender appreciate this kind of tolerance.

From my perspective, Target’s decision to let people use the bathroom or changing room of the gender they identify with was made—and celebrated—mostly for emotional reasons. Lots of people have given the policy a thumbs-up because they, in Target’s words, want to chorus, “Everyone deserves to feel like they belong. And you’ll always be accepted, respected and welcomed at Target.”

There isn’t actually a lot of logic in the inclusivity policy—no ethical justification of why Target is siding with the minority over the majority, no details about the practical, concerning implications that many saw right away, no explanation of how this will be enforced or what it means. It’s all explained with the simple, emotionally-loaded idea that we don’t want people to feel excluded or marginalized.

Here’s my claim: I’m glad we feel compassion for those who feel excluded…but I don’t think that should be the first thing we prioritize when making decisions. We’ve given it too much weight, kind of like self-esteem (a good concept in theory) was probably given too much weight when making choices about how we raise and educate kids (participation trophies for everyone!). (more…)