Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I am inordinately proud of myself

Have any of you, dear readers, been paying attention to the word count on my sidebar?

It's right over there --------->
(and down a bit, at least until I write more posts and this one gets bumped.)

Well, my New Year's Resolution for 2008 was to write at least one chapter a month. I just wrote another chapter this afternoon, so I have successfully fulfilled my resolution. (I'll post the newest word count update in the morning.)

I don't know how many chapters I wrote in January and February, but going from March 1 onwards I wrote...12 chapters. So, I would have accomplished my New Year's Resolution even if I hadn't pecked out a few more chapters before that.

Anyhoo. The Novel currently has 33 chapters; it needs about six more to be finished. It's terribly unambitious of me, but I think my resolution for 2009 will be to write a chapter every 2 months. Or perhaps I will renew my chapter-a-month resolution and then rest on my laurels after the end of June.

Either way, I'm well on my way to writing a book. I'm no NaNoWriMo winner (*cough*Rebekah*cough*) but I'm still rather proud of myself.

(For those of you who don't know, I've been bouncing ideas for this novel for about 2 1/2 years and officially started writing in August 2007.)

What's in a name? (Two-year-old edition)

The Little Princess can say "Megan" now.

Admittedly, she's not that great on the G, so it sometimes comes out more like May-can, but it's decidedly not May-may.

I wasn't that disappointed when she stopped calling Scott May-may (He's 'Cott now), but I'm not sure how I feel about my own name change. I rather liked being May-may.

In related news: The lovely and brilliant Emily came to visit yesterday, and LP thinks she is Just About the Most Awesome Person Ever (I'm inclined to agree). After Em left, LP was wandering around the house calling, "Elmo? Elmo?"

I hope you like your new name, Emily.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

This Week's New Words

1. Mine. Usually said with great emphasis: "Miiiiiiiiiiine!"

2. I want. Usually said several times in a row. "Iwa Iwa Iwa Iwa!"

Yes, she's a toddler.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Perspective

It's not so much that He could commit evil, if you ask me, as that whatever He
could choose to do would by definition not be evil. However, on the receiving
end of the action is where things get tricky.


That's the beginning of a comment left by Shakespeare's Cobbler on my first post in the evil series. I won't quote it in its entirety because he does those 50-word sentences that only I read (because I love him :)).


It reminded me of something I'd read before during a discussion of whether the unbaptized can be saved: We are bound by the sacraments. God is not.

To use a more generally-applicable concept (because some of my small pool of readers are not Catholic): We are bound by the commandments. God is not.

Thou shalt not kill, He said--shortly after sending the Tenth Plague upon Egypt.

The Catholic Church teaches that abortion is wrong, in-vitro fertilization is wrong (see, the Pope doesn't want everyone to have 14 kids so that Catholics can take over the world.), murder is wrong, suicide is wrong, euthanasia is wrong. (This list is not meant to be exhaustive, just illustrative.) Why? Not so we can take over the world (As I already mentioned). Not so we can ruin everybody's fun. There are things the Church forbids simply because she acknowledges the fact that we do not have power over life and death.

God does. God can allow all kinds of things that seem to us to be unspeakably evil. Maybe they are not things that ought to have happened (so we blame Him--"the woman you put here with me..."), but that doesn't mean that God is either evil or powerless. Maybe our world really is shattered beyond repair, shards of blue and green glass lying beyond repair at the bottom of the universe, and from our perspective all is ruined.

Perhaps from God's perspective those little shards are simply the material He needs in order to make something beautiful.

Giggling down Memory Lane

The Princess and Dad have developed a game: She touches his toes, he shrieks. He does this because he is extremely ticklish. Now she seems to think that shrieking upon having one's toes touched is simply Something People Do. (Once she was entertaining us at dinner thus: "Foot! Toes! EEK!" Over and over.) This causes some problems for Mom, who is not at all ticklish and thus doesn't react when somebody touches her toes. She came to Dad the other day saying, "I have a feeling she's trying to play a game with me and I'm not doing it right."

This whole thing with ticklish toes reminded me of the Tickle Monster, who has not visited this house in a good 10 years or so. (Actually, he's never visited this house, since we only moved here 4 1/2 years ago.) Tickle Monster used to chase Kitty and I all over the master bedroom, regularly capturing one or both of us on the bed and tickling us silly. We knew how to subdue Tickle Monster, though. Whichever of us was willing to take the risk would sit on him (thus risking being tickled to death), while the other one would go to his feet, take off his socks (and shoes, if necessary) and tickle his feet until he begged for mercy.

Good times, those.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

She knows how this works

Before bed last night:

Princess, by the tree: "Open it? Open it?"

Mom: "Go to sleep first."

At 5:30 this morning:

Princess, sitting up in bed: "Open it? Open it?"

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Only at the Cobbler's house...

do you come downstairs in the morning to find your father and three brothers singing this over breakfast.

(I was highly amused, but then again I had already been up for 2 hours at that point. I think Almost-17-Year-Old would have preferred to eat his breakfast in peace and quiet.)

Friday, December 19, 2008

The cardinal difficulty in collaboration between the sexes

Me: "Kitty, can you get me another thing of this?" [pointing to empty milk jug]

Kitty: "Sure." [leaves]

Dad: "A gallon of milk?"

Me: "Yeah."

Dad: "That's what you want in English."

Me: "She understood me."

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Some thoughts on evil

In my next post I'd like to respond to a comment the Cobbler left on my last post, but in between I want to go on a little tangent.

Last week I explored the question of Can God commit evil working off the ontological definition of evil as the absence of good. Now I'd like to talk a little bit about the moral definition of evil--it doesn't have ontological existence (I agree with Plato there) but it does have moral existence; otherwise there would be no such thing as sin.

If I remember my Baltimore Catechism correctly, sin is anything which goes against the will of God.

It seems pretty obvious, working off that definition, that God cannot commit sin. He'd have to be going against His own will, and when you're omnipotent you don't exactly have to do anything you don't want to do.

Yet we have the power to go against His will. Have you ever thought about that? You can go against the wishes of an almighty being and usually you won't even get smitten off the face of the earth. Heady stuff, no?

Before I go, I think I should add that nothing that ever happens is outside the will of God. Yes, we can royally screw up His "Plan A", but God did not lose control when Eve ate the apple, and He is still in control. I don't have time to go into God's permissive will right now, but just bear that in mind. You can oppose God, but ultimately He wins. (So if you're thinking about using your nice free will to oppose Him, you might want to think again.)

More thoughts next week...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

You know you're tired...

when you start yelling at the television in Spanish.

Especially if Spanish isn't even your first language.

(I got 9 1/2 hours of sleep last night and feel much better. I think I was just unused to my bed or something.)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Mennonite, actually, but still

Mom: "Miller's Restaurant in Newark has free wi-fi now."

Me: "The Amish restaurant?"

Thursday, December 11, 2008

He is not a tame lion

In our last Honors session of the semester, we were discussing the Rule of St. Benedict, and naturally got into a discussion of free will, a topic which has been cropping up in many of our discussions this semester. Our professor likes to force us to climb out of our mental boxes (an exercise that I need), so she brought up the whole idea of God's free will. The question she presented to us was this: Can God commit evil?

It ended up almost being a conversation between me and her (actually, that happens a lot...it's bad when you're the teacher's pet in Honors). My brain had found an idea big enough for it to wrestle with, and it wanted to keep wrestling until it either got a good grip or was exhausted.

I don't have any grand conclusions to present before you, dear readers, but here are some things to think about:

Can we comfortably say, "God cannot"? It's a dangerous thing, methinks, to put limits on the Almighty. Yes, there are certain logical contradictions (like making a square circle) that it's simply nonsense to predicate to any being, almighty or no, but is "a God who can commit evil" a logical contradiction? It wasn't to the ancients. Read the Iliad sometime if you don't believe me. For that matter, read the Old Testament. Yes, we have ways of explaining all those "God was angry" passages, but let yourself look at it simply for a minute. It looks an awful lot like a God who has no compuctions about wiping people out if He so pleases. Do you think Joshua went to battle against the Canaanites thinking, "Oh, this is all allegorical, God is really unmoved by passions."

Our current definition of God borrows heavily from the Platonists. To them, evil wasn't a thing. Evil was what you got more of the farther you got from the One, until eventually you were sitting at the very bottom of the chain of being, in the utter evil of nothingness. It was those clever Greeks who first proposed that the Supreme Being is the perfection of goodness, and therefore if the Supreme Being were to commit evil it would cease to be all-good and thereby cease to be the Supreme Being. In other words, God is incapable of commiting evil.

I'm something of a Platonist myself, and I do like this definition, but I think we should be careful that we don't settle into complacency, protected from the power of God by our cozy logical formulae. I believe (in the firmest sense of the word) that God would never commit evil, but to say that He could not is a tricky thing.

As Mr. Tumnus might say, he is not a tame lion.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Encore

Morgan: "Do you want a Protestant Bible?"

Me: "No."

Morgan: "Do you know any Protestants?"

Me: "I know lots of Protestants. I'm related to lots of Protestants."

Morgan: "Do any of them want a Bible?"

Me: "I think they all have Bibles."

Morgan: "That's the problem with Protestants."

I feel so loved

Me: "I'm going to die!"

Mom: "Don't do that. Our schedule's too busy."

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Gift of Joy

I went to a FOP last night, and spent the whole time either laughing or singing. I won't go too much into it, because some things are between God and me (I don't tell you all the nice things Scott says to me, either. :)) but I will say that it felt like I rediscovered joy, sitting there on the floor of a gymnasium laughing with abandon. Or maybe I just plain discovered it, because I do not recall ever having been that happy before in my life.

Right before I left (early, because there was something I felt compelled to do), the following Bible passage was read:

And he will destroy on this mountain the covering that is cast over all
peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death
forever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach
of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has
spoken.

It will be said on that day, "Behold, this is our God; we have waited for
him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be
glad and rejoice in his salvation."

~Isaiah 25:7-9

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Bless you

Last week when I was at home for Thanksgiving, I happened to sneeze. The Princess, wandering by, chirped, "Bless you!"

Naturally, I melted into a puddle at the cuteness. A little later, I reflected that the blessing of a two-year-old has got to be one of the purest blessings there is. There is absolutely nothing between her and God.

True, she probably doesn't really know what she's saying (although she understands more than you might give her credit for, so maybe she does after all...) but then again do we (all-wise grown-ups that we are) really know what we're saying? When somebody sneezes and you say "Bless you," do you ever think about the fact that you are calling down the graces of Almighty God upon them?

Words are pretty powerful things.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Philia Continued

There has been some big stuff going on in my little world. When things first started to get really rough, I asked the Cobbler, "Can I tell one person about this, just for the sake of having somebody to talk to?" He said yes, and so I went to Twin, one of my household sisters who is also an RA and happened to be on duty that night. It helped so, so much to just be able to talk to her. It seemed at certain moments like she was feeling things even more than I was--but then again, if I'd let myself feel everything I don't know that I would have gotten through the last few weeks.

Since then I've gotten support from so many people. My household sisters are my main support network here at school--they listen when I tell them what's going on; they pray for me even when they don't know what's going on (you'd be surprised how many people know you need prayers before you ask for them). There have been others too, though, friends from back home and even Theocentrica, whom I've never actually met in person but I love her to pieces just the same. I think it's kind of nice that the Cobbler didn't just give me himself when he came into my life; he also ended up giving me one of my best girl friends.

The Cobbler is a wonderfully supportive boyfriend, deals with my moods remarkably well, and provides a very comfortable shoulder to cry on when needed. But he's not a girl (I wouldn't want him to be) and sometimes a girl just needs to talk to another girl. I can't explain why that is. If you're a girl yourself, no explanation is necessary; if you're a guy, no explanation is possible except perhaps by analogy.

Just the other day the Cobbler said that he badly misses the Immortal Philosopher, and they're going to have some serious plotting to do when the latter gets back from college. I promptly had a little lightbulb moment sitting there staring at the Skype window.

Guys need friends too. I'm sure that intimate guy-talks (if such things even exist) are not at all the same as intimate girl-talks, but that's precisely the point. When the Cobbler is in a certain place, nothing I can do can help him, not because I'm a bad girlfriend, but just because I'm a girl. I've been trying lately to help him battle the forces of evil and such because he needs some serious help in that department, and it's just caused trouble for both of us.

I laughed once at a mutual friend of the Cobbler and me who said that I can't be his sidekick and his love interest at the same time. Now I'm starting to think she was right. It's not my job to ride out and duel the forces of evil with him. That's somebody else's job--most likely the Immortal Philosopher; possibly our household brothers or some other guys.

My job is something altogether different.

Monday, December 1, 2008

If that were the case, I'd probably be disqualified too

Morgan: "Oh, that's a cool name."

David L.: "What?"

Morgan: "Habukkuk."

Me: "If you ever have kids, it's going to be interesting, hollering their names from the back porch."

David: "Melchizedek! Methusela! Habukkuk! Get over here!"

Morgan: [laughs] "Maybe that's a sign I shouldn't have children."

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

This is called "natural consequences"

The scene: Dad is washing dishes, Mom is getting ready to make stuffing, and I am wandering through because I remembered that Mom bought little oranges earlier and I wanted one.

Mom pokes her head in the fridge and pronounces the Words of Doom:

"Did somebody use butter yesterday?"

Silence falls over the kitchen for a moment. Then I lean towards Dad and whisper, "I think you're going to Wal-Mart."

Mom pulls her head out of the fridge. "Yeah!"

Today's Life Lesson: If you use up all the butter 2 days before Thanksgiving, then the night before Thanksgiving you will be going to Wal-Mart to get more.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

On a lighter note

Last night, my household coordinator and I went shopping for our Secret Santa party (which is today). I was having a hard time finding something that was a good present but under the five-dollar limit.

Me: "Okay, what does Terri* like?"

Buttercup: "Well, she's a girl."

[long pause]

Me: "Buttercup, we're all girls."

Buttercup: "No, I mean a girl."

Me: "Oh, one of those girls."

I won't say what I got her, but I will say that it is pink.

*Names changed to protect privacy.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Laundry woes

For some reason, dear readers, the capacity of the laundry machines here is just slightly under what I wear in an average week. Usually I solve this dilemma by giving the clothes a few shoves, but since I've started wearing my bulkier winter clothing this hasn't been sufficient. Last Saturday I had about 1 1/2 loads of laundry, so I decided that I do 1 load and then 2 loads this weekend.

I did 1 load yesterday, and do not plan on doing a second one before going home for Thanksgiving on Tuesday evening. Why, you may ask? Because when I went to do my laundry, I could not find my bottle of detergent anywhere. Why does this matter? Because I know that my detergent isn't going to give me an allergic reaction. So I'm waiting to see if my roommate's detergent makes me break out in hives before I go putting it on all my clothes.

I bet you never thought putting on a shirt could be an adventure, did you?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

My Toenails Are Green

or, Grief Is A Funny Thing

My grandma died almost four years ago (it was a few days after Christmas), and a few months ago if you'd asked me if I was still sad I would have said no. I mean, three and a half years is a long time. Right?

Sometime I want to write about Grandma at length here (perhaps on her birthday, which is in a month) but for now I'll just include a few facts.

One: She loved purple. Like, seriously loved purple. Like, just about everything she owned was some shade of purple. So when she died instead of getting a black dress, I got a very pretty lavendar blouse (this was all my mother's idea, it wasn't just me being weird).

A few weeks ago I was home for Fall Break and noticed this blouse hanging up in my closet and thought it was pretty. So I took it back to school with me and wore it to household inductions that night and the whole time there was a little bit of the back of my mind thinking that the last time I wore that blouse was at my grandmother's funeral. Now that I think of it, I think that was the first time I'd worn anything purple since my grandmother's funeral.

Another thing about Grandma: She liked nail polish. A lot. She had baskets full of those little bottles of it and I cannot tell you how many hours of my childhood and early adolescence were spent sitting on the floor of her apartment with newspapers strewn about, painting my nails a variety of colors, sometimes more than one color (I think once for Christmas I alternated between green and red).

Last night I had just gotten off the phone with Scott and was going to fill up my water bottle at the drinking fountain (because my mother told me that the drinking fountain is filtered, not nasty Steubenville water) when I passed the room of two of my household sisters. A third was sitting on the floor, painting the nails of one of the other two. She asked if I wanted my nails done. I made a few excuses.

A few minutes later I wandered in to say goodnight and she asked if I was sure I didn't want my nails done. So I consented to having my toenails painted Servant green (I will never call it teal again, methinks). And I spend the rest of the night remembering, and being a little sad.

Maybe next time I'll have her do purple toenails.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Wife of Valor

Last Thursday in Principles of Biblical Studies, we were discussing the book of Proverbs. I'm going to assume all my readers have read Proverbs 31. (If you haven't, why don't you go do that now? Blogs will wait.)

I like it fine, but it never really inspired me. These are the "qualities of a good wife". That's nice. What if I want to be a great wife? What if I want to "be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor the Devil says 'Oh no, she's up!'" (to quote a Piece of Flair on Facebook)

I'm an overachiever. I like a challenge. I don't like just being "good."

So imagine my excitement when the professor got to Proverbs 31 and explained that the Hebrew phrase (eshet hayil) translated as "a good wife" would be more suitably translated as "wife of valor". The adjective hayil is the same used in 2 Samuel for David's 30 Mighty Men. Those mighty men, you know, who did things like killing lions singlehanded. They were pretty impressive fellows.

Now we encounter their female counterpart. What does this mighty woman do? Strap on her husband's armor and ride off into battle? Nope. She gets up early and does chores. (Mighty women get up early. My morning-person self is still smiling over that one.)

It's something I'm going to try to work on, being that woman of valor (even though I'm not married yet). For the last few months I've been feeling the need to figure out how I'm supposed to be battling the Devil, because God has indicated that He doesn't want me actually fighting. Neither does the Cobbler--after all, it's his job to protect me. Yet I've all this desire for valor that doesn't know what to do with itself. Now I pretty much have a blueprint for it.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Seventeen, Eighteen, Nineteen

So, dear readers, is there anything which one must do while eighteen? If so, I have four days left in which to do it.

Around this time last year I was in a state of shock over how quickly seventeen had gone. Now that I look back on seventeen from a slight distance, I can see why I felt that way. The first six months of seventeen were spent in a blur of advanced math (curses be upon it), college visits, scholarship applications, and discussions-ending-in-tears over the fact that I got into my crazy stubborn head the idea that God wanted me to give up a full-ride scholarship so I could go to an itty-bitty little Catholic school in the middle of the Rust Belt.

The next three months were spent reading fifty-six books (no, that is not a typo), playing pick-up games of Ultimate Frisbee, and having everybody and their aunt asking me if I was nervous about going to college. I wasn't, actually, until everybody started asking me and I started wondering if there was something to be nervous about.

Then there was a five-hour car ride, during which I was very nervous, and a loooong weekend during which I grinned like an idiot. My dad said, "You're not nearly as nervous as you were on the way here," to which I replied, "I'm just jazzed to be on the show, man." (If you get that you're a geek. I'm just saying.)

There followed three months of, "Oh, crap, now I have to take care of myself." I managed, somehow, to make it to my eighteenth birthday without dying, though I did cry pretty much the whole day. We won't talk about that.

The first two and a half months of eighteen are best characterized by the single word waiting...I did not know then for whom.

Around the end of January the Russians happened. You know, dear readers, someday I'm going to tell you about the Russians and you're going to be terribly disappointed because it really isn't that exciting, except for me, because of what happened after.

You see, it was the Russians who made me, later, pause and think just how dear Scott had become to me.

As soon as I realized that I stopped dead and said (out loud), "I'm in trouble."

The next two and a half months of eighteen were spent wrestling with God. I was rather dramatically miserable at the time but in hindsight I'm starting to see why it was necessary. Before April 4 I would not have been ready to stand and listen while Scott stood there and explained an interesting thing he'd just figured out. Before April 6 I wouldn't have been able to say...whatever it was I ended up saying. It was very long and rambly and never really came to a point. I just kind of trailed off and we stood there grinning at each other.

I'm not even going to attempt to summarize the seven months that followed. Maybe in ten years or so they'll form some kind of coherent picture. Suffice it to say that the bad parts of eighteen were worse than the bad parts of seventeen, but the good parts were so much better that if I cry all day on my birthday again it'll be because I can't believe it's possible to be this blessed.

Friday, November 7, 2008

I really wasn't alive in the seventies, I swear

The Servants are going on retreat this weekend, and the sister who is organizing things left a note on everyone's door a few days ago telling them to not forget to bring a towel.

This afternoon, as I am packing, I see the note (which I moved to the inside of my door) and think, She sounds like Ford Prefect with all this insistence on having your towel.

Yes, my dad completely ruined me by letting me read his books.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

"It's really hard to have your categories exploded."

The above statement was made by the professor during my Theology of Christ class today. We were discussing the Arian heresy and how Arius had all these categories he was trying to impose on the Trinity. The Son was either from the Father and thus a part of the Father, or He was from nothing. The Father either actively willed the Son's existence or He was forced to beget the Son against His will. In order to preserve these categories Arius had to say that the Son was made from nothing and that before He was begotten, He was not. (Two statements with which Bishop Alexander of Alexandria took issue.)

Christ explodes all human categories. If I skimmed through my copy of Jesus of Nazareth I could give you a few examples of how he exploded the Jews' categories. When they thought of the Messiah they had certain boundaries deliniating what a Messiah was, and then Christ came along and blew those ideas apart.

Lest this post become excessively long, however, I will give a couple of more personal anecdotes. One day over the summer, the Cobbler was visiting my house and during a conversation with me and my sister triumphantly proclaimed, "I am Scott, Destroyer of Boxes!" The other is from this past spring (early March to be exact), when I was pondering my relationship with the Cobbler and thinking, "Well, there are certain lines we'll never cross. For one, we've never had physical contact beyond shaking hands." A few days later he felt compelled to give me a hug, and did so. So much for that boundary. (I think it necessary to note that our relationship does have physical boundaries, but no hugging is definitely not one of them anymore.)

I'm starting to figure out that trying to fit the Cobbler into my carefully-drawn boundary lines is an exercise in futility. From the very first day I met him he's been destroying my preconceived ideas of how relationships ought to work, one by one. It hasn't been easy. I mightily resisted being friends with him; and the mental fuss I put up when I realized that I might be falling in love with him was something only the boundless patience of God could have dealt with (and He did, in His own time).

The Cobbler is the Destroyer of Boxes. It wasn't until class today that I realized I could just as easily apply that title to God. For over six years now He's been taking my preconceived notions of how God ought to work and obliterating them one by one, and I've been fighting Him every single step of the way.

So. Anybody want some discarded boxes?

Monday, November 3, 2008

I find this vastly amusing

Yesterday morning, while I was still at home, I had a very interesting conversation with the Princess.

First, a bit of context: On my laptop screen I have a collage of four pictures: one of the Greek Geek and the Captain, one of Mari and Ambrose, one of the Princess, and one of Scott.

Yesterday morning I was getting ready to check my email when the Princess wandered over, pointed at my screen, and said, "May."

(If you've forgotten, May is her rendition of Megan.)

Thinking that perhaps she was saying "me" and pointing to her own picture, I said, "Yes, that's [her name]."

"May," she repeated, pointing to a different place.

"No, I'm not on here anywhere. That's Scott."

Now I was on the right track. She pointed directly at Scott's picture and emphatically declared, "May."

At that point, I suddenly realized why we've had no success in getting her to say "Scott," in spite of the fact that she's able to recognize him. In her little two-year-old brain, this person everyone else calls Scott is simply an extension of May.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Maybe we should just call it even

Morgan: "Megan, I have a question for you."

Me: "What?"

Morgan: "What do you want for your birthday?"

Me: "I actually don't know. Mom wants me to make a list."

Morgan: "Okay."

Me: "Morgan, I have a question."

Morgan: "A car."

Me: "What do you want for your birthday that costs less than, say, twenty dollars?"

Morgan: "I don't know. I'll have to make a list too."

Saturday, November 1, 2008

His Precious

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls,
who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and
bought it.*

I think everyone who's been Catholic for any length of time has read an interpretation of this parable wherein we are exhorted to give up our earthly attachments in order to purchase the pearl of great price (I'm sorry, RSV, I just can't say "value"). A few years back I wrote a meditation on that aspect myself. (Maybe I'll post it here someday.) Today, though, I want to propose another way of looking at this parable.

The name Megan means "pearl". I rather liked this when I found out, because I automatically associate the word pearl with the phrase "pearl of great price". It's kind of nice to think that you're precious.

This idea percolated quietly in the back of my mind for a little while before it occured to me that maybe I wasn't going too far afield with my little thought. Would it be theologically incorrect to propose that God is the pearl-merchant and we are the pearls? The merchant sold all he had to buy the pearl; Christ "did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave."**

I don't think it could be theogically incorrect to propose that we are the pearl; that we are precious to God, so precious that He would even die for us. Probably no one of my generation can think of the word "precious" without hissing a little at the end, but try for a minute. Or, if you can't, go ahead and think it. Think about the fact that you are God's precious, more deeply and more purely than the Ring was ever Gollum's.

*Matthew 13:45-46
**Philippians 2:6-7

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Homework for this weekend, part 2

Just because I like making lists:

Read Books 11-13 of Augustine's Confessions (about 85 pages)
Continue to revise Honors essay (the professor gave us an extension because she's overwhelmed)

Read Chapters 9 & 10 of Jesus of Nazareth
Read various letters written by 4th-century bishops on the Arian heresy

Read about 20 chapters of 1 and 2 Kings (various excerpts, presumably the most interesting bits)
Read a chapter in my Bible textbook

Write 2 stories for News Reporting

This week I don't even have the excuse of midterms to explain why I have so much homework. This is just a typical half-week in the life of an Honors student. (All assignments are due Monday or Tuesday.)

My Family

Me, to the Princess: "You're weird."

Mom: "Don't call her weird."

Me: "Why not? I call Kitty weird all the time, do you want me to treat her differently than I would my biological sister?"

Mom: "Not when she was just two."

Me: "That's only because I wasn't born yet. Trust me, I was sitting in the womb thinking, 'You're weird'."

Saturday, October 25, 2008

God is good

It's not November yet, but I had to come back in order to report to you an amazing thing I just found out.

A few weeks ago, I heard from my household brother (who shall be pseudonymously called Happy because he almost always is) that a young man was taking the Eucharist from Catholic churches, desecrating it in various ways, and posting videos of the desecrations on YouTube.

Happy said that he watched 2 of the videos and couldn't watch any more because he was crying. I never watched any of them, partly because anything that made Happy cry would have reduced me to despondency, and partly because (as my boss pointed out) watching the videos just increases this guy's hit count, puts the video higher on the "recently viewed" list, etc.

Yesterday evening the Servants of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus (my household) and Tantum Ergo Sacramentum (the household to which Happy and the Cobbler, plus various others, belong) hosted a holy hour of reparation for the Eucharistic desecrations. Going by my rough head count, there were probably close to 200 people there. To put that in perspective, Franciscan only has about 2,300 students. So a decent percentage of the student body was spending a Friday night adoring the Eucharist as a way to atone for these desecrations.

The videos were taken down last night.

Friday, October 24, 2008

And then pigs flew around campus

I made an interesting discovery last night.

I like exercise.

I will here pause a moment to allow those people who have just fallen out of their chairs in shock (in other words, pretty much everyone who knows me even moderately well) to recover.

Better? Good.

You see, waaaay back when I first arrived in August, Morgan and I made a deal that if she got up to go to morning Mass with me, I would go jogging with her. She came to Mass that first week (and vowed never to do it again, although she since has with another friend). The last month or so my conscience has been smiting me because I gave my solemn oath that her valiant effort to get up early would be rewarded, and for almost 2 months it was not.

Last night the stars were all aligned and the two of us actually had a half-hour in which we were both free and not sleeping. So we put on our sneakers and set off down the Kolbe-Clare parking lot.

It was fun. I jogged all the way down the parking lot, and then we had to swerve to avoid a car and once I was on the grass I lost my momentum, so we speed-walked for a little while while I caught my breath; then we jogged almost the entire way up the Louie-Liz parking lot. Which is a long parking lot. And we were going uphill. So I'm pretty proud of myself, considering that it's the first time I've jogged (in the exercising sense) in my whole entire life.

And it was fun.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Homework for this weekend

~Look over the comments left by my Honors professor on the rough draft of my essay (before her office hours tomorrow, so that I can ask her to decipher her handwriting if necessary)
~Revise said essay
~Read Books 4-7 of Augustine's Confessions
~Prepare to lead discussion on Books 4-7 of Augustine's Confessions

~Read Chapter Eight of Jesus of Nazareth

~Read Divino Afflante Spiritu and Dei Verbum

~Finish writing the article I didn't have time to finish in today's News Reporting class
~Study for a quiz on related incident stories, how and when to use quotes, speech stories, and style (numbers and punctuation)

Forgive me if I don't post anything more substantial until Fall Break. (6 days! Yay!)

Friday, October 17, 2008

How Girly Are You?

I saw this on Facebook and thought it'd be funny:
(I wanted to add qualifiers to a lot of these--for instance, my swimsuit involves 2 pieces: a one-piece and atheletic shorts. Yet I get the feeling a "two-piece swimsuit" has different connotations.)

below 40 = not girly
above 40 = girly
above 55 = paris hilton

[ ] My fingernails/toenails are almost always painted.
[ ]During the summer i pretty much only wear flip flops
[ ] My favorite toy as a child were barbies.
[ ] My favorite color is pink or purple.
[x] I did Gymnastics.
[x] I love skirts/shorts.
[ ] Hollister is (one of) my favorite place to shop.
[ ] Tight jeans are the only jeans I'll wear.
[x] I love chocolate.

TOTAL SO FAR: 3

[ ] I straighten my hair.
[x] I have at least 8 facebook pictures.
[ ] I usually go shopping once a week.
[x] I love to hang out with friends.
[ ] I've gone to a tanning salon.
[ ] I've gone to the beach to tan - not to swim.
[ ] I have at least 10 pairs of shoes.
[ ] I watch either The OC, Laguna Beach OR Desperate Houswives.
[ ] I change my profile weekly.
[ ] I have worn a shower cap.

TOTAL SO FAR: 5

[ ] I would NEVER step foot into Hot Topic.
[ ] My cell phone might as well become a part of me.
[ ] I wear mascara everyday.
[ ] Bathing suits are adorable.
[ ] I don't know the difference between a sheep and a goat.
[ ] Big sunglasses are hot.
[ ] I have gotten my nails done.
[ ] I own over 10 purses.
[ ] MuchMusic is my one of my favorite channels.

TOTAL SO FAR: 5

[x] I like to talk about boys
[x] I love to have other people do my hair.
[x] I like to give and receive hugs from all my friends.
[ ] I hate bugs.
[x]carnivals are so fun!
[ ]summer is THE best season.
[x]My swimsuit has 2 pieces.
[ ]I'm waiting for my knight in shining armor.
[ ]Musicians are hot.
[ ] You write me a poem and tell me I'm beautiful and I'm all yours.

TOTAL SO FAR: 10

[x]I'm self-conscious.
[x]I cry often.
[ ] My room smells like vanilla.
[ ]My dishes get washed more then once a week.
[x] I don't do sports
[x]I HATE to run.
[x]I squeal when I am surprised
[ ] I eat dried fruit as a snack.
[x]love romance novels.
[ ]Drew Barrymore is so pretty.

TOTAL SO FAR: 16

[ ] I dance a lot.
[ ] usually spend over an hour to get ready to leave my house.
[ ] My hair is really important.
[ ] I love to get dressed up.
[ ] Every part of my outfit needs to match
[ ] I talk on the phone at least once a day to my friends.
[ ] I'd love to have a photo shoot of myself.
[ ] The price on clothes hardly matters.
[ ] I apply lipgloss 50 times a day.
[ ]I wish I were a model.

TOTAL SO FAR: 16

[ ]I wish I could meet Paris Hilton
[ ] R&B is the best music.
[ ] I pop my collar.
[ ] Guys with Mohawks are GROSS!
[x] Horses are beautiful
[ ] I never pay attention in school.

TOTAL SO FAR: 17

[ ] I write my own music.
[ ]I would love to visit Hawaii
[ ] Valentines day is so cute!
[x] I wouldn't be caught dead in all black.
[ ] My closet is STOCK FULL of clothes.
[ ] I hate the grunge look of a beard.
[ ] I love to read magazines.

TOTAL SO FAR: 18

[ ]I love to gossip.
[x] had Lisa Frank folders, posters as a kid.
[ ] I love Celine Dion.
[ ] My baths are 2 hours long.
[ ] My wedding only needs a groom because it's already planned.
[ ] My friends and I are in a strict group.
[x]I like kids.
[ ] Diet drinks are the best.
[ ] I have been a vegetarian.
[ ] i refuse to eat at Mc Donald's

TOTAL SO FAR: 20

[x] i check my facebook everyday.
[ ]I have a lot of jewelry
[ ] Claire's has cheap jewelry.
[ ] My screen names has x's in them.
[ ]Either one of my msn names has/had <3/♥'s in them.
[ ]I would never want to be the opposite sex.
[ ] I have more than 3 pillows on my bed

COMPLETE TOTAL: 21

Monday, October 13, 2008

Upheld

Today I came across this quote at one of my blog-haunts:

Abide in the home of the divine and fatherly goodness of God like His child
who knows nothing, does nothing right, makes a mess of everything, but
nevertheless lives always in His benevolence, confident of His love.

I've read this quote before, and was just thinking earlier today that I would have to look it up to see who said it.

Guess who said it? St. Peter Julian Eymard.

You probably don't even know who that is, but he happens to be the Servants' household saint. PJ, as we call him, came through right when I needed him today.

God is good.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Multi-dimensional buckets

My mother has asked for an explanation of the six-dimensional bucket, and since I tend to do what my mother says (usually...) I hereby shall explain it:

On Thursday night Scott and I were sitting in the TES common room doing nothing in particular and he says, "I love you" (because he does that) and then adds, "And I love that you love me," or something to that effect.

After saying "I love you too" (because I do that) I pondered a moment and then said that I think I loved him just as much before I knew that he loved me. I explained it thus: "Imagine you have a bucket. It's not so much that the bucket got more full as it became a four-dimensional bucket." In other words, realizing that he loved me didn't make me love him more, it just added a new dimension.

So Scott promptly declared, "I love you enough to fill a five-dimensional bucket." I laughed, and he explained all five dimensions, and we sat around doing nothing in particular for a while longer.

As he was walking me back to my dorm we were talking about children and he abruptly declared, "I love you enough to fill a six-dimensional bucket." Below I will produce the final list of the six dimensions of Scott's love for me:

1. I am created in the image and likeness of God.
2. I partake in the life of grace.
3. I am a unique person.
4. I love him.
5. I'm beautiful.
6. I love children. (this would probably be higher than Number 5, but it's an addition to the original list so I put it last)

There you have it. If you still don't get it, that's okay. It's just another reason why I'm dating Scott and you're not.

Friday, October 10, 2008

I've been reading the Old Testament a lot...

Last night I must have been snoozing in an odd position because when I woke up this morning my neck was rather sore.

As I was brushing my hair and noticing the fact that tilting my head a particular way makes me go "Ow", I thought to myself, "Truly, I am a stiff-necked person."

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Happy happy happy

First, a quote of the day:

"I love you enough to fill a six-dimensional bucket."

You can probably guess who said that, although if you guess its meaning you're exceptionally clever. (Or crazy, take your pick.)

Second:

WE HAVE AN INTENT!!!

*bounce, bounce, bounce*

I'm too happy to be coherent about it. She's been a "groupie" since before I intented, and I was resigned to having her never intent...AND THEN SHE DID!!! YAYAYAYAYAYAY!!!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Well, that was exciting

How to wake yourself up from the studying-for-midterms haze:

Have a fire drill. The sirens go off, the lights flash, you stand in the cold and rain for 10 minutes until the RAs and security people let you back in...and you are very thoroughly awake afterwards.

Friday, October 3, 2008

FINALLY, Part II

As I posted yesterday, Scott got inducted into Tantum Ergo Sacramentum on Wednesday night. I can't comment on the induction process because I don't know anything about it. Scott knows, but can't tell. Apparently anyone who talks about the induction to non-members is anathematized. However, the senior members of TES did say that if and when any of their members marry they could tell such household secrets to their wife, because after all your wife is of one flesh with you. The way they figure it, the wedding night is her induction process and after that she has all the rights of a member, which would include knowing about how standard inductions work.

This conversation was had in the car on the way to the post-induction party, which was held at a restaurant. I was the only Servant there; the other Servants must have figured that attending Thursday night's party would be sufficient in celebrating Scott's induction. There was food and drinks (non-alcoholic for those of us not of legal age) and much silliness. TES is like that.

I got back to my dorm at about 1 am and went to bed around 2 am. Then I got up at 6 am to go to Mass, because I'm crazy like that. I did manage to get a short nap before my 11 am class, which was good because I had another late night ahead of me.

As the Servants began our household rosary last night, our coordinator prayed for several things, but lastly, "For Annie and Kristin, because they're not stupid so they know what's going on." Yep, we inducted two of our Little Servants last night. *happy squeal* I can't tell you about that induction process either. Our rule is you can tell a) your mother and b) your husband. I've never told anybody, because I don't have a husband and the topic's never come up between me and Mom. Also, this is only the second induction I've been at; the first one was my own and I was too excited to keep track of details.

After the new sisters were inducted we drove to the house of three TES members, which was all decorated for a party in honor of the three new inductees. There was food and drinks (again, alcohol only for those over 21) and very much silliness. We got back at 1 am again and I was in bed by 1:30. I slept in till 8 this morning, but I think I need a nap.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

FINALLY

Those of you who read Scott's blog probably already know that he's been inducted to Tantum Ergo Sacramentum household. I'm very happy, but running on 4 hours of sleep due to the post-induction party, so I'll save my ability to formulate coherent sentences for the homework I need to do today.

*does little happy dance in chair*

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I'm not a genius, I just play one on the SAT

Yesterday while I was at work my cell phone chirped at me. I picked it up and its little screen unhappily announced that it had had to disconnect because there were only 23 cents left in my account.

Disconnect from what? I thought cleverly.

I'm still not sure what my cell phone was calling for 3 1/2 hours, but the end result was that my account was entirely depleted, rendering my cell phone non-functional. (I'm on a 25-cent-per-minute pay-as-you-go plan).

This morning I recharged it, and then spent an inordinately long time pushing buttons trying to figure out how to lock my keypad, because I'm fairly sure that my cell phone's buttons simply got bumped while it was riding around in my pocket.

I finally did figure out how to lock the keypad, so hopefully I won't lose $50 in minutes again. While I was at it I figured out how to put my phone on vibrate mode, after spending several months complaining that it doesn't have a vibrate mode.

This whole incident is getting filed under "Just because I'm in the 99th percentile doesn't mean I'm smart".

Midterms Approach

This semester my 16 credit hours include two theology classes and an Honors seminar on the Church Fathers. So I've been spending the majority of the time with my nose stuck in the Bible. There are certainly worse places to stick your nose, but it doesn't leave me a lot of free time.

With several major tests or assignments in the next three weeks, I've decided to take a sabbatical from Things Aloft until the end of October. If you could spare a few prayers that I not get overwhelmed, I'd appreciate it.

Only at the TES table...

...do you have two people spontaneously start chanting in Greek and the other two join the chant in Latin.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Breaking Bread

The Cobbler and I have reached a milestone in our relationship--I've started "sharing" his food. The first time it was because I wanted seconds but didn't have time to wait in line again, so I liberated a piece of turkey from his plate and ate it. Most of the time, though, there's no such logical reason. I just think his food looks good. In fact, during those times there's a logical reason not to take his food. He's about 102% of my height but only 70% of my weight--in other words, he's thin. He needs his food. I do not need his food.

Of course, this food-sharing relationship is not entirely one-sided. I love cooking for the Cobbler. Once I got mad at him because I had a lovely lunch planned and he showed up an hour and a half late. (It wasn't his fault.) I'm continually donating baked goods to the Make the Cobbler Fatter fund. They're handy because you can give them to somebody a week after you make them and they're still good.

A little while ago I was sitting sharing the Cobbler's midnight snack and commented that sharing food creates a relationship. He asked, somewhat incredulously, "So, every time you have someone over for dinner they become family?" At the risk of sounding ridiculous, I said yes. The Greeks knew that--Zeus would smite you if you abused the guest-host relationship, and people remembered that. Recall, if you will, the scene in the Iliad in which Diomedes and a Trojan warrior (I should remember his name but don't) exchange armor because somebody's grandfather visited somebody else's great-grandfather or some such thing. The relationship between guest and host still held true a few generations later.

It's something we know, or should know, from our Judeo-Christian roots as well. Read the Old Testament sometime. What are they always doing? Making covenants. What do covenants do? They form relationships. Pretty much all the time, the covenant ceremony involves two things: sacrifice and the breaking of bread. The meal is a part of forming the relationship. Then we have the Eucharist, which is sacrifice and meal all in one; which is the sign that we are members of Christ's family.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Still Daddy's girl

It's my dad's birthday today. He's 46. I don't think he'd mind me saying that; it's Mom who's touchy about her age. So, all I'll ever say on that topic is that she's younger than Dad (younger by years, not just months like with me and Scott) but old enough to have a 21-year-old daughter.

Back when I was little I thought Dad knew everything. Eventually I figured out that he didn't, and some of it I helped him learn, especially back when I was his RCIA sponsor--yeah, I'm my dad's godmother. Does that make me my own godgrandmother? (Well, technically he was baptized validly as a baby but those godparents aren't around so I consider myself his godmother.)

Anyway. Here's to 46 years of my dad's existence, which was a necessary prerequisite to my own existence. I love you, Daddy.

Still May-may

For those of you who don't know, I'm home for the weekend. I was a little worried that the Princess may have forgotten me, since she hasn't seen me for a month and when you've only been alive for 23 of them a month is a long time. However, the minute she saw me she gave an enormous smile and then scampered over and held up her hands so I'd pick her up, which I obligingly did.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

You know you are a certifiable geek...

...if you read this on two friends' wall-to-wall and almost fall out of your chair laughing:

"Gah! I hate writing papers! I'm so mentally exhausted and traumatized that I fear I may spontaneously give birth to a non-entity that thinks it created the world!"

I love being in Honors. (I would never actually quit, I'd find another chocolate source.)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Survival Tool

I will probably drop out of the Honors Program if Wal-Mart ever stops selling giant bags of Tootsie Rolls.

Well, a girl has to motivate herself somehow, doesn't she?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Dropping My Shield

Last week during my Thursday night Legend of Zelda session, I had to defeat a particular miniboss who had this annoying habit of picking me up and throwing me across the room. As you might guess, this tended to kill me rather quickly. I couldn't figure out how to dash in, slash with my sword, and dash back out again fast enough to not get grabbed and tossed. I think it was the Cobbler who finally observed that my shield was causing me to bounce off the miniboss, which made my sword-flailings even more ineffective than usual.

So I started running into the room with my shield down. I might have even disabled the shield so I wouldn't be tempted to use it. And guess what? It only took me a couple more tries to beat the miniboss (out of 20 or 30 tries total). It struck me as interesting that going into battle seemingly defenseless actually made me better able to defend myself and ultimately defeat my enemy.

A few days later I thought, "How often do I dare to drop my shield spiritually?" Whenever I'm faced with a challenge, I immediately duck behind a carefully-constructed set of my own assumptions. Sometimes these ideas of what safety is help me to ward off the attacks of the Enemy. Sometimes, though, I end up just getting tossed around and in my hurt and confusion ask God, "How can he still hurt me when I have my shield up the whole time?" Then God points out that my shield isn't helping me one iota, and that in order to advance past this dungeon, I need to just let it go for a little while and have faith that when He tells me I don't need it, I really don't.

How We Roll, Women's Dorm Edition

Overheard in the hall:

"No more drama! Or I'll kill myself!"

(On an unrelated note, my poor knee feels much better today.)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Oww

I think I must have done something to my right knee when I genuflected before Communion this morning, because ever since it's been hurting rather badly whenever I try to bend it and if I put my hand on it and straighten it out I can feel something popping. Oww.

Either it will pop itself back into alignment or it will be hopelessly thrown off by my carrying the books for 4 classes today. If I do end up hobbling around campus for a while at least it will be because I'm excessively reverent.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Interesting

So, dear readers, over the weekend I discovered something.

People who aren't used to getting up in the mornings find it difficult to do so.

Yeah, I know, revelation. Bear in mind that I've been habitually getting up before 7 am since I got my driver's license. (In fact, one of the reasons I got my driver's license as soon as I did [16 years and 2 months of age] was because I got sick of depending on my mom for a ride to daily Mass.) So I can haul myself out of bed at 6 am regardless of how much sleep I got the night before. I'm sure there is some level of sleep-deprivation at which I will sleep through my alarm or fall back asleep after turning it off, but so far I've managed it even on nights where I'm getting less than 5 hours of sleep.

But I digress. The point of this ramble is that when Scott stayed up until 3 am Sunday protesting The World and Its Stupidity, I assumed that he wouldn't have that hard a time getting up at 8:30 the next morning.

The first I heard from him was after I got back from 12:30 Mass. If you calculate it out he really only got about 8 or 9 hours of sleep, which is perfectly average. So I shouldn't have been surprised that he woke up when he did. Most people go to bed, sleep until they're not tired anymore, and then wake up. I go to bed, sleep until dawn, and then wake up and generally can't get back to sleep for at least another 2 hours. (I used to think that I couldn't go back to sleep again until my after-lunch nap, but I've since discovered mid-morning naps.)

Based on these observations I conclude that until I get Scott firmly in the habit of waking up in the mornings, I need to make sure he's also getting to bed before midnight.

Monday, September 15, 2008

What Vespers Will Always Be

Since coming back to Steubie I've been reminded of a lot of the events of the end of last semester. Most of the "firsts" are over now but last night was the first Vespers of the semester and I can't help but remember what happened once walking back from Vespers.

I'm trying to think of a really good conversation starter and can't.
Me neither.
So...Friday...


And everything that followed from that.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Roommates

Me: Where's my Pop-tart?

Morgan: I think I ate it. Want one of my berry pies?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Knowing and Choosing

A while ago my mother sent me a link to this post at Faith and Family Live and the accompanying discussion about the pros and cons of marrying young. One of the commenters posted a link to this post by Mighty Maggie (a blogger whose writing I have enjoyed for about a year and a half...did you think I linked to all my favorites on the sidebar?) Maggie has an interesting perspective on marrying young: She presents her relative lack of knowledge of what marriage entails to be a positive rather than a negative.

To give a little background on my perspective: My parents married when they were respectively 19 and 23. If Mom had waited until she was 25 to get married, neither my sister nor I would have been born. So I might be a wee bit biased in favor of young marriages. As for me, I'm 18 and I already know whom I'm going to marry. I probably won't be married when I'm 19, but I probably will be married by the time I'm 23.

There is a place for evaluating things objectively and having standards and not rushing into things. If one of my friends was dating someone who cheated/drank/abused controlled substances, then I would be very concerned. If one of my friends eloped with someone they met a few weeks before, I would also be concerned. If one of my friends married a good Catholic guy after dating him for a year, it wouldn't bother me. I wouldn't wonder "Do they know what they're getting into?"

The simple answer is that they don't. I don't. I have only the most general idea of what is required for a marriage to work and no practical experience with living such a life (I am seeing a sequel post on cohabitation...hmmm). All I know is that I told the Cobbler, "I'm not going anywhere," and I intend to stand by that statement. When we marry I'll promise formally not to go anywhere, and I won't know then what the next 50 or 60 years will hold for us. All I'll know is that I'm choosing to spend the rest of my life with him.

Project Oligochaeta

Remember how over the summer I decided I needed some homemaking skills and so I embarked on Project Domestic Conquest?

Well, Scott has decided that he is going to start practicing for when he gets a first-shift job. This means that he wants to wake up in the mornings, which means that it's my job to call him and make sure he's awake, which means that I'm going to blog about it.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I hate this

Since I got an email address 4 years ago, I have gotten a particular chain email at least 3 times. It quotes a Bible passage saying that God will be ashamed of whoever is ashamed of Him, and in order to prove that you're not ashamed of God you should forward the email to everyone on your contact list. I got it again last week, from someone I know slightly but not well. Please note that the following post is not meant to be a condemnation of that person for sending it on (some people are good sports, unlike me); just a rant against whoever thought it would be a good idea to get this email started in the first place.

First, I'm going to see if I can make myself not-angry enough to actually respond to this in a logical manner.

*deep breath*

Okay, number one: Since when is forwarding spam a necessity for being a good Christian? Yes, it's Christian-themed spam, but nonetheless it is still spam. I don't forward chain emails. Ever. No matter what the content. The only time I've even come close is with a fill-in-the-blank tell-about-yourself email was going around my friends a while back. I don't at all appreciate emails that demand to be forwarded, and I especially don't appreciate it when they try to browbeat me into forwarding them by saying that it will prove I love God.

Two: Are chain emails really the best way to say, "Hey, I'm a Christian and I'm proud of it"? If you want to get people witnessing to Christ, then send out an email telling them to pray for their enemies or some such thing, not fill up their acquaintances' and business associates' inboxes with garbage.

Ergh. I'm just going to stop thinking about it, but this is the official public service announcement to all of you who read this blog: if you should ever get a chain email and happen to be in a compliant mood, such that you forward it to everyone on your email contact list, I will most certainly not send it back and/or send it to anyone else, and will probably blog about it.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Cute?

Scott: "Whenever life gets too difficult I want to beat it over the head until it listens to orders."

Me: "Or whack it with your sword until it explodes."

[pause]

Me: "I just made a videogame reference! Are you proud of me?!"

Scott: "Yes."

I Hab a Code

If I act crazier than usual the next week or so, it's because cold medicine makes me weird. I'm actually feeling better this morning; I have this wild hope that this cold might have been the short-lived variety but given my track record with colds this is probably just the peak effectiveness of my medicine and I'm going to be wretched again this afternoon.

However, my life has not been unmitigated respiratory wretchedness. For instance, yesterday Scott, Morgan, and I watched Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, which happens to be my Favorite Movie of All Time. Scott and Morgan both liked it. The funny thing was that I didn't actually remember the ending, even though I thought I did (I must have dozed off for the last few minutes or something), so I was in as much suspense as anyone else over how it would turn out.

After I escorted Scott out of the hall Morgan decided that it was time to fix her internet. I've been enabling our laziness by letting her use my computer whenever she needs an internet connection, but I must admit it was getting a little annoying to be forever going to Facebook and having it automatically fill in her email address. (I have a long email address, I don't like having to type it every time.) So Morgan followed the instructions for getting her computer onto the network and then I used my deep knowledge of the oddities of the internet here to reset her port. Then her internet worked. At that point she declared her undying love for me and subsequently had to clarify that yes she loved me before I fixed her internet, and no her love for me is not dependent on my computer skills. Once that was cleared up I went to sleep.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Openness

I know some people who have many kids who are completely incapable parents in love and attention. Others have none or too few children when they have not only homes but hearts big enough to sustain a larger brood. Then there's people like me, who fears that I shall be wasting the best of my baby-bearing years on school, but still hopes to at least best my mother by one.

This was left in the comments section of my last post, and I agree with its author wholeheartedly (of course, she is my best friend, but she still makes a good point).

In an ideal world, everyone who was called to the married state by God would be able to find their spouse in time to have a large brood, and that large brood would come easily. In the world we live in, this happens so rarely that families with more than two or three kids are almost freakish. (And, as Durnhelm will attest, there are even people who think three is too many.)

Sometimes it's our culture that creates a barrier to realizing this ideal circumstance. Nowadays you have to go to school for at least 16 years before you're considered educated, and that candle is burning on both ends. We have two-year-olds going to "preschool" and 22-year-olds who can't find a job because they don't have a Master's Degree. Sometimes even if people marry young they don't have a large family--either because they can't or because they won't. Not to lump those two problems together--too many people do that today; looking at a Catholic family with 1 or 2 or 3 children and thinking that the parents must not be open to life. I absolutely cannot emphasize enough that you never, ever know another couple's circumstances. If you must think about their family size at all, just pray for them.

Then there are the families with eight or ten or however many children who seem to be the model of Catholic family life and aren't. I almost hate to make that point because our culture likes to say that if a family has many children there must be some sort of abuse going on. That's just plain wrong--it hurts the families that are genuinely happy and it hurts the children in the families that aren't, because the structures we have in place to catch child abuse are too busy going on wild goose chases.

We live in an incredibly messed-up world, and often the people who ought to be parents aren't, and the people who ought not be responsible for a guinea pig are. I don't have a perfect solution to that. I have two cousins who are adopted. They went from being abandoned to being two of the most doted-on little girls in the Midwest. Sometimes that works. Sometimes God can take two bad situations (in this case, abandonment and childlessness) and patch them together to make something good. God has a way of bringing good out of bad--just think of Redemption.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Thumbs, Bananas, and Poetry

Yesterday at Principles of Biblical Studies (henceforth referred to as PBS), we had a very interesting discussion of Genesis 2. For instance, when the professor read Genesis 2:18, one of the boys shouted "Yay!" A few verses later, Dr. B read Adam's reaction to Eve's appearance. Only he didn't just read it, he sang it, and when the class laughed at him he said, "Look, it's in verse right there on your page. Before Eve came along, Adam was just like, 'Ohh, an opposable thumb! Hey, ape, pass me a banana! Look, I can grasp it!' Then Eve came along and he was Shakespeare." (All of this accompanied by appropriate gesticulations.)

I was recounting this story to Scott at dinner and he said, "If that had been me, I would have been composing poetry about thumbs and bananas and then when you came along as Eve I would have been like..." [he sits wordlessly with an astonished look on his face].

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Mathematics of Love

From the time I was 12 until about 16, whenever anyone asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up, I'd say that I wanted to get married and have 12 children. (I need to work on recovering that boldness; I almost never tell anyone about my 12 children anymore.)

There have been only two times that I got an encouraging reaction. The first was from a very sweet mother of 10 in our old homeschool group. The second was from the Cobbler. Virtually everyone else has said something along the lines of "You'll change your mind after the first [one, three, etc.]."

I'm not going to deny that taking care of kids is hard work. It is. I just hate this attitude that it's impossible to raise more than 2 children. 100 years ago people raised half a dozen kids and thought nothing of it. There are a couple of things that seem to be connected to the change in attitude. One is a change in social structures, which I'll hopefully address in the near future. The one I want to address here, though, is a change in the idea of how love works.

People who think you should never have more than two children seem to have this idea that love works like division. If you have a spouse and one child, you give each of them a certain amount of love. If you have a spouse and three children, then that's four people to love instead of two, and so the amount of love you give each person is cut in half.

May I respectfully say that this is bull? I have had the priviledge of knowing a couple of larger families (I'm thinking particularly of two families who each have 5 children at home.) Not one of the children in these families shows signs of not getting enough love or attention. The older ones have little siblings who worship them; the younger ones have big siblings who dote on them. And the parents are devoted to each and every one of their children. In other words, not only do they have what an only child has (parents who love them deeply), they have another four people who love them as much. Who would want two or three people loving them when they can have six or eight or ten or thirteen?

The more people you love, the more love you have. This isn't a division problem; it's multiplication.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Am I Bossy?

Things I have said to my boyfriend in the last 24 hours:

6:00 PM: "Are you going to eat any actual food?"

11:30 PM: "Go to sleep. I mean it."

7:55 AM: "Are you awake? Are you coming to breakfast?"

8:05 AM: See above

8:40 AM: "Get your bag."

8:45 AM: "Go to class."

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Week over

I don't have any Friday classes (yes, you may hate me), so I am now officially in the weekend. I'm too tired to post much, plus Scott ought to call me pretty soon so we can go to dinner (he's at Mass).



So, I'll just share a picture with you:




The pagans get Labor Day off. The Captain and I are very excited.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Green Lamp-post

In the novel Manalive by G. K. Chesterton (good grief, that sounds just like how I used to begin my book reports), in the chapter entitled The Round Road (or The Desertion Charge) the author notes that on the corner next to Innocent Smith's house stand a green lamp-post and a red pillar-box. I don't have the foggiest idea what a pillar-box is, and I'm not sure why that little detail stuck in my head, but it did. Now, I loathe it when people ascribe Deep and Symbolic Meaning to everything an author pens, so I won't attempt to say what Chesterton meant with his little detail of the green lamp-post and red pillar-box. But I will say that those two things stand in my mind as symbols of home--of having a place you love not because it is objectively so much better than other places, but because it has your very own green lamp-post and red pillar-box. (You're all going to have that phrase stuck in your heads now, aren't you?)

In his book The Four Loves, C. S. Lewis wrote (there's another classic book report opening for you) that affection is the "lowest" of the four loves (more thoughts on that book here) because the objects of affection are often without any objective merit. We love them simply because they are there, not because they are beautiful or clever or useful or any such thing.

In some ways, though, I think our affection comes very close to how God loves us. He doesn't love us because we are good and holy (if He did, I would be in serious trouble) but simply because we are His.

Monday, August 25, 2008

I'm old

Freshman: "Ooh, those look good! What are they?"

Scott: "Strawberry smoothies. You can get them at Jazzman's in the JC."

Freshman: [runs off with a delighted look on her face]

Me: "Freshmen are so cute."

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Prayers needed

One of my friends linked to this article on his Facebook page today.

Please pray...for Kelly, for her teammates, for their families and friends, for everyone at Franciscan...for the safety of the hundreds of students who are going to be driving back in the next few days.

The Other Side of Surrender

In four days I'll be going back to school for my sophomore year. Thus far the first week looks to be remarkably easy--far easier than the horribly homesick first week of freshman year (in fact, I spent my whole first semester dealing with chronic homesickness--it didn't get better until about a month into second semester).

Yet I still find myself experiencing moments of tense anxiety when I think about going back to school. This may sound strange, but I find it hard to believe that God will allow me to be simply happy for a while.

Now, I don't think of God as some kind of Divine Spoilsport who wants me to be miserable, but I do have two reasons to doubt that life will be easy. One, I've spent the last seven months or so feeling like Peter did a few Gospel readings ago--I have to reach out and cling to Jesus just to keep from drowning. In my case there's the added twist that in order to grab Jesus' outstretched hand I have to drop everything else to which I'm clinging and trust that it will not sink irretrievably unless the good Lord wills it. In short, I've gotten rather accustomed to the stormy seas and I'm wondering when the next wave is going to come.

But that's not the main reason. The main reason is that I experience God most closely through suffering--when I let go of everything else and there's nothing in all the world but Him and me.

There is a severe sort of joy in lying thus naked on the bare hand of God. I think one of the reasons we experience spiritual growth as suffering is because we are pained by an excess of joy, just as we can be blinded by an excess of light.

So whenever the blaze of God's splendor subsides into a little hearth-fire which must be tended and fed lest it fade to mere embers, I find myself half anticipating and half dreading the day when it will become, once more, a consuming flame that burns away everything but the bare essentials.

I wonder, though, if this phenomenon is yet another manifestation of my desire to have life look the way I expect it to look. I expect my crosses to look like crosses, not feather-beds. What if embracing God's will sometimes means embracing happiness? What if it means surrendering myself utterly to the blessings which God has put in my life, not holding back because I'm afraid that someday all these things I hold dear will be taken away--that He will ask me to give them up?

But what if He never does? What if, on that day when it truly is just Him and me, the question He asks is not, "Why did you not embrace the crosses you had been given?" but "Why did you not embrace the blessings you had been given?"

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Summer Reading Conclusion

Since my last update I've read three more of the books on my list. I read Big Red and The Black Stallion both over the course of 3 days because those two books were from the Polis library, which sends out overdue notices every three days, and Mom said she didn't want another overdue notice so I promised I'd have both books read within three days. (The other books are from a larger library system and I can renew them online.)

Then I slogged my way through Emma, which ended up being a rather good book. However, I'm not sure it was good enough to merit 400-odd pages.

Now I'm halfway through Kristen Lavransdatter, and I daresay I will finish it in the next 5 days. However, I most certainly will not have time for either The Idiot or Brideshead Revisited. Ovid never came in at the library--considering it's been "pending" for a good six weeks now I doubt it will ever show up.

So technically I failed in my summer reading challenge, but six books in as many weeks is nothing to sneeze at--and now I will have two or three books ready for my December reading challenge.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Beauty

Some weeks ago, on a Sunday morning, I happened to look at myself in the mirror and realized that I am quite passably pretty. Honestly, the only reason I was looking in the mirror was because I had a new dress on and wanted to make sure it fit properly. I didn't expect to look pretty in it.

About a year and a half ago I was preparing for the Father Michael Scanlan Scholarship Competition and had quite a time choosing what I wanted to wear to my interview. I didn't want it to be too frilly, but I also didn't want it to look too much like a suit. Finally I found something that was professional but still feminine. Yet I wasn't entirely pleased for the sole reason that when I wore it I looked pretty, and I didn't want to look pretty. It was a scholarship competition, after all. You didn't get points by being pretty, you got points by being smart.

Having a boyfriend has made me rethink my dislike of looking pretty. I think it stemmed mostly from a desire to not look like a "flirt", one of those silly, shallow girls who cares for nothing but looking good and getting male attention. Then Mr. Modest-girls-are-prettier came along and I slowly came to the conclusion that real modesty is a balance.

Think of it this way: If you had a very valuable painting, you wouldn't leave it out on the dining room table to get stained and tattered. But neither would you put it away in a sack where it would get moldy and moth-eaten. You'd put it up in a frame, so that its beauty would be evident but it would still be protected like the treasure that it is.

To dress scantily is immodest because it makes feminine beauty a common thing, to be shared with anyone who passes on the street. Dressing with the goal of covering everything possible is also immodest in its own way, though. It says that feminine beauty is something low and dirty which must be hidden away. Dressing becomingly but without being revealing communicates that I respect the great gift of my feminity.

The Return of The Cobbler

He's back. I don't say that just because he posted again. Even if he didn't post after this for 2 months, he'd still be back.

After a stressful semester followed by a busy summer, I'd almost forgotten how he gets when he's actually happy and energetic. In the last week or so, though, I've had two long rambling conversations about random topics. Then yesterday Scott went off into a long ramble about everything under the sun and I just sat back and listened because his brain was jumping from one thing to the next too fast to admit conversation.

Yep, the Cobbler is back.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Being Turned Inside-Out

If rational souls are designed to love, why is it that we so often fail to love, or love only imperfectly? Why is it that love often feels like it's going against every instinct we have?

Here, I am not talking just about romantic love. I am talking about everything that requires us to engage another living being on a personal, relational level--whether that being is God or another human.

Love is natural because we are human. Love is hard because we are fallen. We are all of us born with broken souls and our souls have to grow as well as they can but often there is still some imperfection, something that did not grow straight the way it should. If we are to love perfectly, we sometimes have to rebreak and reset some part of our soul.

All love requires vulnerability, all love requires surrendering some part of ourselves. Often, when I am being stretched by the demands of love, I get a mental image of being turned inside-out. The stuff on my insides is being slowly pulled out and given to the other. It hurts sometimes, for the simple reason that I am broken. In order for me to love my heart needs to be broken and reset. So far I'm not even through all my "operations", if you will. Each time I'm broken I get a little closer to the ideal of love. My soul looks a little more like it's supposed to look. But so far I don't love perfectly, and until I do I must continue to be broken.
I've prayed for brokenness before. That might sound strangely masochistic, but I wouldn't keep doing it if I didn't see that it was actually more like medicine. For example: As I was contemplating my life just before this past Lent started, I prayed about what I needed to accomplish spiritually speaking during Lent and came to the conviction that I needed to have my heart broken. I had gotten too settled into my comfort zone of little vanities and would have to be shaken out of that if I wanted to get anywhere in my relationship with God. So I prayed and sure enough I emerged six weeks later rather raw after having had all the accretions scraped off--some of them none too gently. Two weeks after that I embarked on the adventure that is loving the Cobbler. I don't think I would have been ready for him suddenly changing the direction of our friendship if I hadn't gone through that Lent. It's only been a few months since then, but I have grown so much it seems I must have lived through a few decades.
That's why I keep praying to be broken, to be turned inside-out, because things always happen in the same order: 1) I get too complacent with living in my own little well-defined world. 2) God shatters my sense of order (either with my cooperation or without) 3) God shows me a new world so much broader and more beautiful than anything I could have imagined before. I figure I might as well cooperate with Step 2. In conclusion, since I don't derive enough from C. S. Lewis on this blog, I'll leave you with a quote:
Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want
to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an
animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all
entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But
in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be
broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be
vulnerable.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Oh dear, another extrovert

The Little Princess loves talking on the phone.

Case in point: Last night Scott happened to call while I was in charge of the house. Naturally, Princess wants to know what I'm doing and starts climbing up my leg. I hand her the phone and she happily chirps "Hello". Then she stands there with an absolutely fascinated look on her face, occasionally chattering but mostly listening. Finally I decide that I want to talk to Scott and take the phone back. Princess begins wailing and yanking on my skirt. I put Scott on hold, find a handset, and stand on the other side of the baby gate talking--because I'm a meanie, you know, and don't let my little sister talk to my boyfriend for hours on end. She stands on a chair and wails. Then, because I'm obviously not understanding what she's trying to get across, she puts a hand to her ear (she'll occasionally wander around the house in this fashion, chirping "Hello" every now and then) and continues to fuss and glare indignantly.

Extroverted much, you think?

(She did quiet down and start playing with some plastic spoons after a while, and I didn't stay on the phone long anyway.)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Mental Flotsam

Notice, dear readers, that I changed the description under my title.

So, what's on the beach today?

A few shiny thoughts about Scott, which generally dissolve into little shiny puddles of happiness. Shiny puddles of happiness are all well and good but they don't make for very coherent blog posts.

A couple of splintery fragments about buying textbooks and packing up shampoo, but I don't want to get splinters so I'm not going to pick those up.

A seagull is flying over my head croaking out ideas for my novel, but I'm afraid I can't hear him very well with all the waves. Perhaps I should retreat up the beach a bit and see if I can hear better perched on the headlands.

Air Fresheners and Bra Ads

A few weeks ago on my other blog I mentioned seeing a car air freshener designed to look like a rosary. It shocked me--how messed up does our culture have to be to use something holy as a commercial gimmick?

When I told the Cobbler about it, he stated simply that it's not as bad as the bra ads you see in some stores.

It took me a few minutes to figure out that he's right. (Though it shouldn't have surprised me--he's almost always right.)

It seems, from what I've osmosed of Theology of the Body (mentally adds to reading list), that there are two purposes to women's bodies being as they are: To nuture their children, and to give pleasure to their husbands. Remind me later to discuss the connection between the procreative and unitive aspects of marriage (right after I actually read TotB).

If anything a woman's body is even holier than a rosary. We are fashioned by God to serve a particular role within the sacrament of marriage. Rosaries, for all their goodness, are only a sacramental, not holy in themselves.

Ads involving scantily-clad women are essentially taking something holy and using it as a commercial gimmick. Buy our product, not because it is the best, but because we mentally associate it with something that is good. What advertisers (and consumers, for that matter--I'm not going to lay all the blame on the corporations) don't realize is that by taking something holy and profaning it they are damaging our society. More on that in future posts...

Administrative note: COMMENTS OPEN. Thanks to the Cobbler (genius that he is) for pointing out that I hadn't yet turned them on.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Unremarkable Quirk #7

When I'm really tired and slap-happy I'll randomly start singing "I'm a Little Teapot".

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

At the grocery store

The other day I was making an emergency Wal-Mart run. I, being a genius, picked the line with only one cart. I, being a frequent victim of Murphy's Law, picked the line with the people who had 70 things to check out. While I was standing there waiting, I decided I might as well flip through the nearest magazine.

I'll give you a moment to ponder the utter foolishness of my decision.

Done pondering? Good. My observations on said magazine: All but one of the articles were no more than half a page long. The one article that was longer (about Brad and Angelina's most recent additions to the human race) reminded me of a picture book--a full-page photograph and then one sentence of text. I'm not sure how many pages long it was--I put the magazine back on the rack and watched the nice people in front of me unload their dog food.

What kind of culture do we live in, that magazines written for adults are designed to require no more of an attention span than that of the average five-year-old?

On a lighter note, this is what we were out of that necessitated said emergency Wal-Mart run:




Mom: "David, did you write that?"

Dad: "No, Tammy did."

Square One

You'd think that by now I would have figured out that God knows how to run a universe better than I. Seriously--He's an eternal, omnipresent, omniscient being. I'm an 18-year-old who's never been out of the continental United States and, though I'd probably qualify as a genius if I had the time or inclination to have such a thing tested, my understanding is nonetheless very limited. I don't know what we're having for dinner tonight (Mom? What is for dinner tonight?), what right have I to think that I can arrange my life in the way that will be best for me?

Yet here I am. God and I had a serious talk last night about my attitude. You see, it goes like this: Just when I think I have this surrender thing down, something happens that upsets my neat little world and I promptly pitch a fit. This shouldn't be happening, I complain. It's not fair. God allows me my tantrum and when I'm done He picks me up, plops me down at the foot of the Cross, lets me ponder a bit, and then says, Yeah, sometimes life's not fair.

It's okay to say, "This isn't fair." It's okay to have a good cry when I've been disappointed. What's not okay is sitting around wallowing in my misfortune. If I truly believe that God works all things for the good of those who love Him* (and I do), then I have to pick myself up, brush myself off, and keep right on plugging away. I'd like to be the kind of person whose faith is strong enough that they don't get knocked down by circumstances beyond their control. Since I'm nowhere near that strong, I simply, stubbornly, persist in trying again--one of these days I'm going to get it right.

*Romans 8:28

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Too Cute

Dad: "Say goodnight to Megan."

The Little Princess: "May-may, nigh-nigh." [gives kiss]

Oh Happy Day

The other day, Mari sent me a picture of her and Ambrose. Later that evening, (or perhaps the next day) Scott and I were discussing it between ourselves and I mentioned how I had to find the photos he once sent me of the Three Anachronisms and save them to someplace more findable than wherever I'd saved them when he originally sent them.

So I went digging through my IM history, found the filenames, and hunted down the pictures. In the same folder I found a subfolder with an obscure name. I clicked on it and found...IM archives! I have been looking for these IM archives for at least 2 months. Now at last I have found them and can relive every conversation I had with Scott from December 2007 to April 2008. Many of them were three-ways with Emily, and let me tell you we made quite the trio. Some of these conversations are hilarious. The best one, however, is a two-way between me and Scott. Yes, I found the Russians. I'm ecstatic. If you're not Scott and therefore have no idea who the Russians are, that's okay. It's one of those "You had to be there" things.

This is frustrating

My email does not approve of my boyfriend.

How do I know this? Because after (and only after) I started dating him, it decided to send all his emails to the junk folder. This was kind of inconvenient, but it did instill in me the good habit of occasionally checking my junk folder to see if anything important had gotten accidentally junked. Still, it was annoying, so last week I and the Help Menu set out to remedy the situation. I really shouldn't do these things--I know just enough about computers to be dangerous.

Good news: Scott's emails are no longer going into the junk folder. Bad news: As far as I can tell, they're not going anywhere else either. The only way I managed to find them (after him Skyping me about several emails I never saw) was by looking in the "Unopened items" folder.

I'm going to get TechSupport on this as soon as the NASCAR race is over.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Enchanted

The Sister, the Little Princess, and I watched Enchanted for the second time yesterday (okay, so it was LP's first time). I liked it even better this time than last. I think my problem the first time was that I was so used to the typical Disney Princess fare that I wasn't able to properly appreciate something which so defied my expectations.

First, I realized that Prince Edward is actually a really nice guy. I thought he was a bit egotistical the first time, but on second thought a) having healthy self-esteem isn't a bad thing and b) if he'd really been totally self-absorbed he wouldn't have gone to New York to rescue Giselle, he wouldn't have patiently followed her around all day on their date, he wouldn't have exhibited such genuine kindness and sweetness towards her, and most importantly he wouldn't have stepped aside when he realized that no power he possessed could save her in the end.

Second, I realized that Giselle wasn't quite the ditz she first seemed, either. I mean, first she falls for one guy within a day of meeting him, then she promptly falls for another guy within a few days of meeting him. A bit fickle, are we? But really, she wasn't. She was willing to go with Edward when he came for her; she only made the decision to stay after he let her go. Also, once I realized what a nice guy Edward was, I thought she ought to have married him anyway. Who wouldn't rather marry a prince than a lawyer? But that would have been wrong. Robert and Morgan needed her. Edward did love her, but he didn't really need her. You don't abandon people who need you.

Also, I think Nancy and Edward actually make a pretty cute couple. Edward needs a woman with a bit of spice--Giselle, with all her sweetness, could very well have fed his ego to unhealthy proportions. Nancy will let him be his noble knightly self, but she'll keep him in line too.

In other words, I like the movie. And I overanalyze things.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Samwise Gamgees of the World

"Come, Mr. Frodo!" he cried. "I can't carry it for you, but I can carry you and it as well."

~J. R. R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

That is one of my favorite lines in the books (and the filmmakers left it in the movie, give thanks for small blessings); not just because it is a wonderful scene in and of itself, but because thinking of it has allowed me to put into words things which I mightn't have been able to deal with otherwise.

There have been two occasions in my life that come immediately to mind wherein I have had to be a Sam to somebody. It's a pretty awful feeling, to watch somebody you love suffering, and not being able to share that suffering with them--but it's a comfort to know that it's okay, that some sufferings are made for the bearer alone, but at the same time one can carry the person.

Sam wasn't particularly smart, or strong in battle, or magical; unlike some of the other characters. Yet it was he who was appointed to help Frodo with the ring. Everyone in the Fellowship had their own role to play, and Sam's role was to remain with Frodo to the end. No one thing he did was particularly extraordinary (except perhaps the battle with the Orcs at Cirith Ungol)--plodding along through a wasteland isn't exactly a glamorous task. Sam's glory isn't that he did anything great, but that (to paraphrase Mother Teresa) he did small things with great love.

I'm not much of a warrior; I don't feel much qualified for fighting the forces of evil. Yet I fight them just the same--not through anything glorious, but through smal, dull, ordinary living; and loving. I don't like being weak, or broken, or needy, but I am. Perhaps God chooses little halflings like me because we know we're not strong. We figure out sooner that we're not strong enough to defeat evil on our own. It's a great risk God takes, because we might just give in to despair; but on the other hand we might also realize all the sooner that we need God desperately. The less there is of our silly pride getting in the way, the more God can work through us. And that (as Gandalf might say), is a very comforting thought.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Four Loves: Sequel

When I told the Cobbler that I was reposting The Four Loves (in two parts) and mentioned how the things I wrote about romantic love amused me in hindsight--reading them, I cannot help thinking about the fact that he and I started courting all of twelve days later--he asked, "Are you going to post a sequel, then?"

Yes, I am. This sequel draws on Lewis' book, but not the chapter on eros. Instead I'd like to highlight the disctinction Lewis makes in the first chapter between need-love and gift-love. Gift-love, he says, seems more Godlike because God's love, after all, is purely a gift. He doesn't need us. Need-love is a very creaturely thing, and yet at the same time Lewis questions whether a human is really closer to God when his love is more gift-love than need-love. After all, need is the proper response of a creature to its Creator. We need God, plain and simple. Without Him we are nothing.

It wasn't until after the Cobbler started courting me that I had a thought about this. What if, I wondered, need is not an imperfection? I'd always assumed that feeling incomplete, feeling needy, was a symptom of the Fall. Only imperfect people need. Yet...Adam needed God just as much as I do.

Then something else occured to me. Adam needed Eve.

God looked upon this perfect, pre-Fall man, the pinnacle of His creation, and said, It is not good. Never before had He called something not good. Adam's aloneness was not a good, and therefore not a proper reflection of God who is all good. So God created Eve, and then all was good. Adam was complete.

It was so strange for me to think that needing another human being was a good, was the way things ought to be. So strange to think that the fact that I need the Cobbler is not a sign of weakness on my part. There is a lot of gift-love in my relationship with him, but from the beginning there was also need-love. I was incomplete. I was in a state that was not good. Then he came along, and now things are good.

The disctinction between need-love and gift-love is, in humans, something of a false dichotomy. With God there is pure gift-love. But with us the gift is never entirely free of need. We need to give of ourselves in love like we need to breathe. It is simply the way our souls are wired. If we don't love our souls die as surely as our bodies do when put in a room with no oxygen. Yet at the same time our need is a gift to the other--we say to them, "Yes, I need you, please love me," and they do, thus fulfilling their own need to give.

We are not meant to be alone. We could never learn how to love if we were alone. There is a certain absurdity in the idea of us giving ourselves to God, for we have nothing that He needs. There is no absurdity in us giving ourselves to another person, for we have something that they need; they, likewise, have something that we need. That is real love, to respond to the need of the other and accept the gift of the other. There is no shame in that, no brokenness. It is this community, this becoming one with the other, that God looked upon and said, It is very good.