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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!

Lord of the Rings Valentines

Last year, I made a series of valentines based on famous theologians (the comments section of that post is priceless). Afterward, my sister texted me and said: “Those were great…but I didn’t get half of the jokes. Next year, make Lord of the Rings valentines.”

When the twin sister requests something…she gets it.

So, here you go. Enjoy them, print them out, use them as inspiration to watch a certain movie trilogy this Valentine’s Day instead of the latest rom-com, whatever works.

TheLordoftheRingsValentines

With love,

The Monday Heretic.

Any other characters you’d like to suggest? Or some alternate captions for the ones already pictured?

The Blog Post That Isn’t

Have you—yes, you, the person reading this—ever posted something on Facebook just to make others think of you in a certain way? Taken a picture of you looking good or doing something awesome just to impress someone? Said something borderline mean just to be funny, modified your real opinion just to fit in, refused to admit you were wrong just to show that person, that one particular person who is so self-important, that you are just as good as they are?

ME

Or, maybe a better question: has there been a day when you haven’t done one of these things?

It’s been a while for me, even here on this blog. I’d like to say that I always write on it for the right reasons, but most of the time (all of the time?) our motivations are mixed. On my good days, I write on this blog because I want to start good conversations, because I love it, and because I know God has given me the gift of communicating, and I want to use that to his glory.

On my bad days, my fear of a life that goes unwitnessed means that I turn to the Internet with my thoughts and stories and feelings in order to feel validated and secure. I let my good desire to be loved turn into an endless cycle that feeds on the affirmation of others and yet is never quite satisfied. I want you to like what I say, and to like me, and to like me so much that….

That what? That I matter, I guess. That I am doing something great for God. That I can finally feel like I’ve earned your approval, and maybe his too. (more…)

Why I Am Jonah

image

I am sitting at the airport, eating my meal voucher bagel and hoping none of the Bible professors around me realize that I am the reason our flight was canceled.

They are an easygoing crowd, clad in collared shirts and tweed, chatting about the Trinity while waiting in line, joking with the airline employee rescheduling them. But I wouldn’t put it past them to draw lots (or boarding passes) to determine who is responsible for a flight cancellation on a cloudless spring Sunday. I don’t want them to find out that I am Jonah. (Because unlike your typical Delta airlines crowd, they would actually get that reference.)

Not that I’m running from God. I’m pretty sure he’s okay with me going back home after visiting family. Minneapolis is not, in fact, Tarshish, and I was not told to go to Ninevah.

But have you ever been sure that a particular plot twist is intended entirety to teach you a lesson? That you are the one whose particular character flaw is inconveniencing an entire group of people? That if someone could just threw you out of the South Bend airport, the mysteriously disappeared plane will arrive on the runway. (I am not suggesting they wait and throw me out of the plane in flight. Like, what would God do, have me swallowed by an albatross?)

Background: I had a choice between a 2 pm flight and a 7 am flight. And I chose the earlier one, getting up at 3 am Central time so I would make it to church. And I was pretty darn proud of that. Look at me, rearranging my life around God’s people! I am so spiritual and sacrificial! And even though I don’t drink coffee, I won’t fall asleep during the sermon because I am Just. That. Good. I will take detailed notes without the aid of caffeination and not be cranky at all and find some way to casually mention my deliberate flight plans so people know just how committed I am.

And here I sit, reminded by an unexplained flight delay that A. I am a really prideful person and B. I am not the one in control.

It gives me a flashback to that chapel during my sophomore year of college when they announced all of the mission trip teams so everyone could pray for them. I sat there in anticipation. My team’s picture would flash up on the huge screen, and everyone would know that I was giving up my time to serve orphans and stuff. And they would know that I was so spiritual and sacrificial. My hair even looked good in that team picture, and when does that happen? It was, clearly, an act of God, as a thank you for all the awesome things I was going to accomplish for him over spring break. Which everyone would know about soon, once they got to our slide.

As the other teams appeared on the screen, one by one, I recognized how completely misguided and self-centered in that was. And I prayed, “God, help me to see you instead of myself.”

Then our team’s slide appeared on the screen…with a big black box in place of the picture. We were all completely anonymous. No one knew about me or my sacrifice. No admired me or praised me. No one saw me at all. And that’s just the way it should be.

The tech team never did figure out what happened to our team picture, but I know. A reverse miracle, I call it, one of malfunction instead of healing that put me firmly in my place, as a small extra in the story of what God is doing.

They still don’t know what happened to our plane either. The term they’re using is “mix-up.” Most of the Bible profs coming back from their conference are fine with the wait. “It rains on the just and the unjust,” one says, shrugging.

Yes, yes it does. On the plus side, the storm could have been much worse.

Just ask Jonah’s ship-mates. Sorry, fellow passengers. This self-centered prophet needed to learn a lesson…again.

Christmas Carol Parodies

It’s been a while since I’ve written some Christmas carol parodies. Since my freshman year of college, actually. So I’m about due. These have basically no theological significance, so I’m not making it my normal Monday post. But I hope you enjoy them!

Carols Black Friday Carol
To the tune of “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”

I came upon a midnight sale,
The night after Thanksgiving Day.
I tried to say my chatt’ring teeth,
Went “jingle all the way.”
The people waiting in line were tough,
And carefully guarded their place.
All armed with plans and strategies,
And cans of hidden mace.

Then through the doors the crowds all ran,
With grace of a violent stampede.
To be the first to get the deals,
On all the stuff they…“need.”
A harried clerk-elf beat back the line,
While kids ate the fake stuffing snow.
Two moms fought for the last Elsa doll,
To strains of “Let It Go.”

I jumped a toaster avalanche,
And dodged a melee by the shoes,
And found the Tupperware all had gone,
Before I got to choose.
Why do we bother with this each year?
This Hunger-Games-esque shopping spree?
I’ll watch a horror film instead.
To stress myself for free!

(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…)

An Open Letter to Gerig Hall

Dear Gerig Hall,

This morning, I woke up, glanced bleary-eyed at my alarm—at that particular alarm.

And smiled. (Which, I should add, in case you are one of those ridiculously cheerful morning people, is not normal.)

But let’s go back exactly two years ago. April 29, 2012. College junior Amy (shorter hair, slightly more cocky) is sitting at her computer, writing a blog post for the next day. For background, you should probably read that blog post, because in it, she challenges herself to a social experiment: get to know people in a dorm called Gerig Hall. (That’s you.)

Gerig

This experiment consisted of a year of theological conversations, stargazing, Easter eggs, breakfast at midnight (but basically nothing else from the Taylor Swift song, thank everything that is good and right), worship nights, frozen yogurt, trash chute serenades, and board games that involved killing aliens, bioterrorists, outlaws, zombies, and each other.

By April 29, 2013, I considered the experiment a rousing success. (more…)