Archive for November, 2004

h1

Cookies and Carol King

November 17, 2004

“You’ve got to get up every morning,
Put a smile on your face
And show the world all the love in your heart.”

[Beautiful, Carol King]

Ahhh, sweet idealism. This morning I am making cookies out the dough I mixed up yesterday and listening to Carol King. You really can’t beat that combination for a morning routine. Whose tastebuds don’t want a spoon full of cookie dough in the morning and a little “You’ve Got A Friend”? Plus, it goes really well with Bongo Java’s Charbucks Blend. However, before cookies, coffee and Carol King, I read some of Isaiah. One the best things about waking up and having no one be here in my apartment except me and God is that I can talk to him out loud, like he was sitting with me and having a bowl of Cherrios and bananas. Granted, this is a rather new thing for me as my theology of who God is continues to change and to be formed. So Yahweh and I were reading Isaiah together. Some passages I would read silently (he doesn’t need me to read it to him, he wrote it) and some parts I would read out loud to get the full effect of the words and to really let them sink in. For example,

And you will say in that day,

I thank you, God.
You were angry
but you anger wasn’t forever.
You withdrew your anger
and moved in and comforted me.

Yes, indeed-God is my salvation.
I trust, I won’t be afraid.
God-yes God!-is my strength and song,
best of all, my salvation!”

Joyfully you’ll pull up buckets of water
from the wells of salvation.
And as you do it, you’ll say,
“Give thanks to God.
Call out his name.
Ask him anything!
Shout to the nations, tell them what he’s done,
spread the news of his great reputation!

“Sing praise-songs to God. He’s done it all!
Let the whole earth know what he’s done!
Raise the roof! Sing your hearts out, O Zion!
The Greatest lives among you: The Holy of Israel.”

Isaiah 12 (The Message)

This should be read out loud.

The hard part about reading a book like Isaiah is that you come across passages like this as well:

Proud humanity will disappear from the earth.
I’ll make mortals rarer than hens’ teeth.
And yes, I’ll even make the sky shake,
and the earth quake to its roots
Under the wrath of God,
the Judgment Day of his raging anger.
Like a hunted white-tailed deer,
People will huddle with a few of their own kind,
run off to some makeshift shelter.
But tough luck to stragglers-they’ll be killed on the spot,
throats cut, bellies ripped open,
Babies smashed on the rocks
while mothers and father watch,
Houses looted,
Wives raped.

Isaiah 13:11b-16 (The Message)

God and I had to have a little talk about this one. The conversation:

ME: What? Has this happened yet? Did you do this already? It was prophesied about Assyria, but has it happened? This doesn’t make me very comfortable. I don’t understand how you can just use people, like Assyria. You used them to capture and destroy Judah, to oppress your people because of their disobedience, and then you turn around and destroy them. Are we all just pawns in your game?

GOD: Remeber Jesus?

ME: Yes

GOD: Remember what you studied in school about the appeasement of my holy wrath? Remeber the words expiation and propitiation?

ME: Yes and no. Hold on, let me get a book.

So, I went to my bookshelf, which all of my books don’t fit on, and grabbed a Bible dictionary. And I was reminded:

Expiation emphasizes the removal of guilt through a payment of the penalty, while propitiation emphasizes the appeasement or averting of God’s wrath and justice. Both words are related to reconciliation, since it is through Christ’s death on the cross for our sins that we are reconciled to a God of holy love (Romans 5:9-11; 2 Corinthians 5:18-21; Colossians 1:19-23).

GOD: See, I have shown my wrath in the past to those who provoked me to anger by the worship of other gods, the same is true for Assyria and Babylon and Judah and Israel. They all chased after other gods. You chase after other gods, too, and Jesus sacrifice remains for you the expiation and propitiation for your own sin and disobedience. Cool, huh? Am I not just? There is much you do not know and will perhaps never know (said with a smile). But know this, I am trustworthy and just.

ME: It’s good to be talking to you again.

With that settled, we finished our Cherrios and bananas and moved on to baking cookies and listening to Carol King. Next, we’re going to vacuum the floor.

Two Quotes that have Appeared Here Before:

Safe!?
Of course he isn’t safe!
But he’s good, he’s the king.”

-Mr. Beaver about Aslan (C.S. Lewis-The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe)

“…and whether it was more like playing with a thunderstorm
or playing with a kitten, Lucy could never make up her mind.”

-about Aslan (C.S. Lewis-The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe)

h1

4 States. 4 Concerts. 1 Band.

November 6, 2004

Last weekend I was privileged to once again witness the genius that is Nickel Creek. My first Nickel Creek show took place in Bloomington, Indiana at the Axis Nightclub in the spring of 2003. I was able to see the band again the following summer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, during my time there with Youthworks. This past summer, while working with Mosaic in Los Angeles, I was once again able to see them at the Roxy on Sunset Boulevard. Now, if I were actually following the band around the country as a lifestyle that would called being a ďroadyĒ. As it is, they just seem to show up in the states that I happen to be living in at the time. Last weekís show was bit different though. It was bit more magical, if you will. It was the farthest away Iíve ever sat to see them, and it was also the first time I actually sat at one of their concerts. All the other ones had been in small venues or outdoor festivals where you push yourself as far as you can to the front and hope a tall man isnít standing in front of you. This show was different for two main reasons. First of all it took place in Nashville, Tennessee. Secondly, the venue in which it took place was none other than the historic Ryman Auditorium, home to the Grand Ole Opry for a whole bunch of years and the best place to hear live music in the entire city (this is debatable, but this is my blog and I say so).

Nickel Creek has the status (I almost wrote ďdistinguishedĒ status, but that would make my opinion sound like itís worth more than it really is) of being my favorite bandÖever. I know, Mom, Iím always saying ďthatís my favorite _______Ē but this is for real. Nickel Creek is hard to describe, but Iíve succumbed to saying this about them: theyíre like Bluegrass without the whisky, divorce, Jesus or twang. If youíve ever listened to true Bluegrass you know what Iím talking about. They also have a true genius in their musical ability that probably makes Bill Monroe sit up in his grave and listen (FYI: Bill Monroe is the father of Bluegrass). I havenít officially gone on an investigation of this postmortem listening party, but I would almost guarantee it happens.

Nickel Creek is kind of like Crime and Punishment (only you read it) in that you have to hear them, and are better off to actually see them in concert, to know what Iím talking about. I donít throw the word genius around too often, but with Nickel Creek there is no discussion. Pick up a copy for you and all your loved ones today!

ďYou dream of colors that have never been made.
You imagine songs that have never been played.
They will try to buy you and your mind.
Only the curious have something to find.Ē

[This Side–Nickel Creek, from the album This Side]

h1

Why Young People Don’t Vote

November 6, 2004

Speculation from a young person who didnít vote.

First of all, as always, I feel the need defend myself for not voting, but I wonít. Those reasons will come out in rest of this writing. No worries, I fully intend on voting for the rest of my life, so keep your heads on.

I have been eligible to vote in the last two election, and if you were to ask me what the inside of a voting booth looks like, I couldnít tell you. Remembering back to the fall of my sophomore year at Taylor, I am trying to recollect what my surroundings were like during that semester (2000). Oh yes, thatís the semester I spent 4-7 hours a day in the library doing work for the weed-out class in Christian Ed and Biblical Literature (my roommate can vouch for that statement). So much for watching campaign coverage. Anyway, I just decided I didnít want to start thereÖrewind to high school.

Try to remember with me what you learned in high school about our democratic system of government. Not what you learned about history, just about what you learned government wise. I was fortunate enough to have one of the best high school government teachers in the country (I will stand by that always). Mrs. Gilley, though unabashedly liberal, is a lover of democracy, like all good liberals and all good conservatives (and everyone in between) should be. I learned an amazing amount about the US government in one semester of high school. I just wish I would have cared enough then so that I would remember it now. I cared, just not enough. That is precisely my first point. Young people donít care enough, but not for reasons you might think.

Why Young People Donít Care Enough About Government

1. First of all, young people donít know enough to care. They donít know enough about democracy, its history and its benefits compared to the governing systems of other countries in this world. This is failure on the part of two parties: one being parents as educators and two being the educational system itself. As far as parents go, generally what they teach their children about democracy (purposefully or inadvertently) is simply this: there two parties, democrats and republicans and whatever I am you are, or you should be. Parents can be just as bad as the media in their not giving of the whole story.

2. Second of all, young people are in their own world. This is an issue of physical development as much as it is of social development. It is now thought that the period of adolescence lasts until the age of 22 or 23 (yeah, Iím almost out!). Up until the end of adolescence the young person is growing psychologically/mentally (this is partly why we do all of our big screwing up when we are young). Although I believe I will live in my own world for a greater portion, if not all, of my life, that is different from being in my own world as a teenager/adolescent. This is where social development comes into play. If you will remember high school, do you remember anything happening in the world around you? Did you ever think about the world as whole? Did you ever think about the entire country (excluding when big things happened, like Columbine for meÖthat was different though, because that was still in the realm of ďmy worldĒ)? Chances are you thought about the opposite sex, the note you were going to pass to your friend in between or during classes, what was on the lunch menu, what time the basketball game was, did your hair look okay, was the guys restroom going to catch on fire again (thatís a personal one). Iím going to guess that as a 15, 16, 17 year old you werenít thinking, ďMan if I was 18 who would I vote for?Ē And even if you did, you would just vote for who your parents were voting for. If you have ever been a young person or worked with young people, you should know that it is very hard to break into their world with something more interesting than what is already in it (which is them), and unfortunately politics doesnít make the cut.

Okay, back to my sophomore year at Taylor. By the way, not much changes here from high school for a lot of young people, including myself. Life at that time for me was socially and academically driven, in that respective order. Itís pretty much like high school on a caffeine high, because you are about 10 times more socially and academically driven. You eat, sleep and breathe people and school, and letís be honest, letting George W. Bush and Al Gore into that picture is rather frightening. I would rather be in the reference section of the library for 7 hours a day. Although I do remember all of us dorm girls thinking that W. was so cute for an older guy and so we wanted him to win. See, itís just like high school. You still donít know enough about democracy, about history or about the candidates. That moves me into the present situation.

Besides being in the middle of a move during this election season, not getting an absentee ballot and refusing to drive all the way to Grant County Indiana to vote when my state was going to vote Republican regardless, there was another reason I didnít vote (by the way, you might check the temperature in hell if Indiana ever votes a democrat into office). That other reason is simply this: I didnít know what to believe, who to believe and certainly not who to trust. There are no clear lines for the young person, and it seems like everyone is lying. It is hard to make such a decision when you are royally confused. Remember, young people are new to the voting game. It can be intimidating. After all that Iíve discussed about young people, one can see how it would be hard for a young person to have a fully formed political view at the age of 18-25. There are exceptions, just as in everything. I can only speak for myself.

Iíve wondered sometimes why young people hate their high school literature classes, and Iíve come to the conclusion that it is for a similar reason as to why they donít vote. It is because they donít have the life experience necessary to digest and fully comprehend the condition of humanity, which is what all the great books are about in the end. Similarly, young people donít have the experience of knowing and understanding enough about the human condition of this world and what power actually lies in their hands. P. Diddy can register them to vote, but he canít educate them about life. Life educates us in a cruel mannerÖas it happens.

Something funny happened to me while I was watching the election coverage this past week. I started to understand and love democracy. It was almost like I felt myself growing up. I am a registered voter in the State of Tennessee now, and ready to play my part as emperor of the US.

I guess Iím hoping this helped someone, anyone, understand why young people donít vote. It seems to be a hot topic these days. I may not be right, itís just speculation from my experience. And look, I turned out alright (debatable). Be gracious with the young voter, or young non-voter. They are deep wells full of beauty and mess crashing around in their hearts and heads. And ultimately, the soul is more important than the vote.

h1

Dyslexia Strikes at the Most Inopportune Moment

November 3, 2004

dyslexia [dys-lex-ia] noun:

a variable often familial learning disability involving difficulties in acquiring and processing language that is typically manifested by a lack of proficiency in reading, spelling, and writing

As I read this definition I thought, “This doesn’t sound like me.” The encyclopedia Britannica’s definition sounded more like me:

Chronic neurological disorder causing inability or great difficulty in learning to read or spell, despite normal intelligence. It inhibits recognition and processing of graphic symbols, particularly those pertaining to language. Symptoms, including very poor reading skills, reversed word and letter sequences, and illegible handwriting, usually become evident in the early school years.

This sounds more like me, but only the “reversed word and letter sequences” part. I’m pretty sure I read well and have good handwriting. Stick with me, I’m getting to the story…

For those of you that know me, this something you might not know. I’m mildly dyslexic. A lot of people are. I keep telling myself, “It’s nothing to be ashamed of. You are human and therefore your mild dyslexia is a result of the fall of humanity. It isn’t your fault. Take it up with Adam and Eve.” This dyslexia visits me in a couple of different forms. As far as letters go, every so often I read words wrong. I get the letters jumbled. Like recipe and receipt. I always have to think hard about that one. There are a few other words that also give me trouble. It isn’t many words, but enough to make it irritating. However, letters aren’t the main problem. The main problem is numbers. I regularly transpose numbers. For example, when I used to work for the “the man” at Starbucks (now I work for the “little man” at Bongo) I would sometimes work the drive-thru window. I would have to repeat to the person ordering the total price of their order. So, say someone ordered 2 Venti White Chocolate Mochas. I would say to them “that will be $8.48 at the window.” But instead of actually saying $8.48, I would say $8.84. Once I did this to a lady and when she pulled up to the window and I apologized for my error she said, “you did that to me last time.” I don’t know how to explain how embarrassing this is. Maybe it’s debatable, but I’m not an idiot. The way people are treated who work retail or fast-food is not that great in general. I always got the feeling from people coming through Starbucks that they thought they were better than me and my co-workers, just because we worked in fast-food. Which, needless to say, is very irritating to a college grad. Not that my education makes be better than others (for I am privileged), but it’s very hurtful
when “the suits” come in and belittle you with their guise of friendly banter, or worse with their insistance that you did not make their drink correctly when in fact you did. Whoever said “the customer is always right” didn’t think that through very well. Anyway, back to my dyslexia.

So, today I went into work at 1:00 pm, when I was scheduled. Or so I thought. Remember, I have problems with numbers. One of my co-baristas said, “what are you doing here? You were supposed to work at 7 am.” Believing with all my heart that I was supposed to work at 1:00 I said, “no I wasn’t.” Bob, who I love, said “yes you were, that’s why I’m here.” And he whipped out the schedule, which looks like this:

Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat Sun
8-3:30 1-7 7-1 1-7

How cruel is that!!? I can’t explain what my mind does. You read the definition. It’s a disorder in my brain! A disorder that cost me $39.00 plus about another $30 in tips! Not to mention it makes me look like I can’t read and made the morning more hectic than it needed to be for my co-workers. That’s what I feel most badly about, because mornings are busy. I know what it’s like to get called into work at 7:00 am when you aren’t scheduled like Bob did this morning. Only that was never because someone was dyslexic. It was always because someone decided they just didn’t want to come to work that day. Fortunately, when I worked with Bob last week, who is a poet, we talked about writing and things of that nature and in the discussion dyslexia actually came up and it turns out we both have it mildly. So Bob felt my pain. I still feel like a moron.

h1

Crime and Punishment

November 2, 2004

For a while now, Iíve thought that I should start reading classic novels, for no other reason than to know why they are referred to as classics. About three weeks ago I decided to put that thought into action. I decided to start with Crime and Punishment, a 600 or so page novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky (sounds just like itís spelled J) He wrote Crime and Punishment for the purpose of paying off his debts, and it was published in 1866. Honestly, when I checked the book out at the library three weeks ago I didnít expect that I would actually read it the entire way though, let alone in the allotted time. After all, it is a 600+ page novel written about a century and a half ago, and translated from Russian to English. There are a certain breed of people who consider this type of endeavor enjoyable. Please, donít make fun of us.

The more I think about it, the desire to read the classics isnít odd in and of itself, but beginning such a task with Crime and Punishment is. I donít know why I chose it. I donít know what led me to think that this would be a good place to start. Perhaps I did it to be able to answer more of the literary questions on Jeopardy (this is not a joke). Or maybe it was because if I started with Crime and Punishment reading everything else would be a breeze. I discovered towards the end of my reading that it was not my choice to read this book, but that something other than my own will had set my mind upon reading it. God wanted to meet me in the novel. God is truth, and he communicates his truth to us in ways we donít always think of. We have been trained (unintentionally, I think) to view truth only as that which can be heard or preached in a church setting, or that which is written in the Bible. Yet we cannot limit the creativity of God no matter how hard we try to label him, box him up or give him certain ramifications by which he must communicate with us. He will not be contained. Not only will he speak through the pastor, but he will speak through the novelist. His truth is to be found everywhere, in every nook and cranny.

The grace of God is vast, immeasurable and without boundaries. And it is near to us. God is not distant. He speaks his grace, his love and his hope for us into our souls through people of great compassion. We must give one another a large margin to commit error, which is only right because we have been given the same by God himself. In doing so, we exercise the authority of God which has been given to us to forgive the sins of others. The human heart has an incredible capacity to love and forgive. God is in relentless pursuit of our trust in him and in his people. Redemption is a long and powerful process.
This is the extremely short version of how God met me in the pages of Crime and Punishment. I feel as though I cannot discuss anything further, unless I were to retell the entire story. But it is complex, yet worth the reading. And it almost makes me laugh to think that God powerfully communicated with me through the words of a dead Russian.

“Moreover, in order to understand any man one must be deliberate and careful to avoid forming prejudices and mistaken ideas, which are very difficult to correct and get over afterwards.”

–Pulcheria Alexandrovna Raskolnikov (Crime and Punishment)

ďHe did not know that the new life would not be given him for nothing, that he would have to pay dearly for it, that it would cost him great striving, great suffering. But that is the beginning of a new storyóthe story of the gradual renewal of a man, the story of his gradual regeneration, of his passing from one world into another, of his initiation into a new unknown life.Ē

–Fyodor Dostoevsky (Crime and Punishment)

ďTo you, as an artists, truth is revealed and declared; it came to you as a gift. Treasure, then, your gift, be faithful to it, and you will become a great writer.Ē

–Vissarion Belinsky about Fyodor Dostoevsky