Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Thomas Merton and tequila

I have decided to start writing with capital letters because I recently had a conversation with an excellent fellow blogger and friend (http://wordshepherd.com/) that brought to light how seriously I do not take my blog entries. That might not be fair to say. I do take them seriously, but I try not to put too much pressure on myself, or else I wont post anything. The more I believe a post needs to be perfect, the less likely I am to sit down and write it. So, I try to have a somewhat careless approach. Also, I would be lying if I didn't admit that, along with the increased frequency of posting, the careless approach also helps me to avoid disappointment when a piece is not met with the enthusiasm that I had envisioned for it. Avoid a little, anyway.

My new offering to the serious blogging world is capital letters. That, and I am going to try to post more often than I do. It's good for me.

I feel better already.

Tonight, I'd like to speak to you about my life in terms of a Venn diagram.

Throughout my life, I've had the privilege of building relationships with a great variety of people. This was almost entirely due to my constantly changing educational environment: Christian, secular, private, public, boarding, tiny, big, at home, and abroad are all words that describe my education at one time or another. I don't regret this. If you ever see my mother, tell her that I said this. I think she is afraid that I hold some grudge about having been to 8 different schools before high school. I don't. It was, for the most part, fun. If being the new kid is an art, then in my prime, I was Botticelli. Except, without the naked women. That would have been inappropriate. I became pretty good at reading people, discerning what they wanted, what they valued, interpreting reactions, etc. (These skills would later serve me well in customer service-type jobs.)

What does all of this have to do whth a Venn diagram? Well, because I learned how to make the outsider-insider transition at an early age, and with all sorts of circles, I have always found myself drawn to different groups at once, able to see the merit of multiple social codes/sets of values. And right along with these many people have come ideas and interests, as varied and conflicting as the people by whom they are presented. Be it over tequila shots or a Thomas Merton piece, I have found stimulation and growth in expected and unexpected places. For the most part, this is great. I find myself with many friends and even more acquaintances.

And now you're asking yourself "Well then, what's the problem?" Of course there's a problem, or I wouldn't be writing about this. And, further more, I have yet to explain the Venn diagram connection, even though I began this last paragraph in a way that would lead one to believe that an explanation was coming. (In my defense, I thought it was.)

Here it is: I feel like the section in the middle - the oddly-shaped piece that is shared by both circles. This piece represents the common ground. That's all well and good, but what identity does that piece have beyond the fact that it holds the common elements? It has nothing of it's own, and it doesn't really belong wholly to either circle. If it went to a party in one circle, it would belong, sure, but would always stick out at least a little bit.

Like Popeye said, I am who I yam, and I don't want to change it. But, those little pieces of me that don't fit, wherever I am, the ones that always want to be somewhere else, the ones that can make dating and building strong friendships hard, the ones that I'm certain other people always notice, they sometimes make me melancholy.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

playing baseball using the rules for chess

one of the most valuable pieces of insight that has ever been given to me was offered by, adorably enough, my mother. i was in high school and our family was experiencing some *ahem* relational turbulence. it was very painful. what she told me was that it was okay not to know what to say, how to feel, or what to do, because the situation in which we found ourselves was one that we were never intended to face. we weren't built to hurt one another.

since then, this pearl has continued to find it's way into my thinking and even, on occasion, out of my mouth for someone else.

i think that it's easy for people who follow a particular teaching or set of teachings to get very caught up in applying principles to situations inappropriately. and then, it's kind of like trying to play baseball using the rules for chess. it just doesn't work.

for example, many people believe that abortion is wrong, and so they blow up abortion clinics and kill doctors who perform them. woah. i don't know about you, but i'm having a hard time finding the connection between abortion being wrong and destruction and murder being right. the passion for one cause grows so large that it spills over, clouding judgement.

i will now introduce the "what now?" concept. let's say you find yourself in a situation that you don't believe you were designed to handle. there's no passage in the Bible that begins: "when your spouse leaves you..." what now? well, in the Bible, along with all of the verses about premarital sex, there are other instructions: love. grace. compassion. forgiveness. justice. it's okay to not know how to respond to situations that are upsetting, but when in doubt, apply these principles and you can't go wrong.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

like a married dude at a night club

i went to church twice today. that's right. twice in one day. no need to tell me you're impressed. i already know.

even though i was at church last week, for some reason it felt like a long time away. the feeling i get when i go to church for the first time in a little while is kind of like the feeling i used to get in college when i pulled up to my parents' house, or entered the city of manchester. it's a feeling of homecoming, a feeling of familiarity, the absence of needing to prove myself or explain myself. it doesn't have to be dramatic, but it certainly is pleasant.

it was while singing a song tonight that an interesting analogy popped into my head. (i like those.) the refrain of the song spoke of freedom. now, here i am, feeling all homey and singing about freedom, when my mind drifts to a night club. don't ask me, i'm often just a spectator in my own head. i began to think about how my being in my own life, is like a married dude at a night club.

the married dude is at this night club, and he may be very participative - having a few drinks and doing the robot, but his goal is largely different than that of most other men there. other men may be anxious about trying to meet someone to date, or even just take home, but the married dude is free to just take everything in and enjoy himself, knowing that he has already found a permanent version of what everyone else is looking for. as the night wears on, the other men may become more anxious about leaving alone (as some of you women may have noticed, men are much more bold as closing time approaches...), but our married dude is as loose as a goose.

this is how i feel. i live my life. i love my life. i participate in the world around me. however, i have no cause for anxiety, because i've found what so many others spend their whole lives looking for: purpose, and the confidence that comes with being unconditionally loved by the One who created me carefully.

happy sabbath.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

i'm getting old

i've been too busy for, well, my entire adult life. not until now, however, have i ever wanted something different. i liked the lack of sleep, the schedule conflicts, the money-spending. slowly, over the past few months, i've been seriously valuing more my still and quiet time. i mean actually valuing - not just talking about it so that other people can see how ridiculously busy i am.

so, it's official. i'm getting old.

i'm considering only having one job (not to say that my second job is taking up a whole lot of time these days). this doesn't completely tie into my last point, because it would mostly be to make time for other, more creative ventures.

i've been promoted at my "real" job. i like it. i'm a "production coordinator." i feel like an appreciated employee for, perhaps, the first time with this particular company, which is really invaluable. i'm contributing more to the production process, learning more things. all of this is good. presently, though, my job is largely trafficking files and working in maddening computer programs (i wont bore you, or myself, with the details), which is not fun, but i think it wont last and hopefully that change will come sooner, rather than later.

my eldest brother, jesse, is getting married this weekend. i'm pretty excited for so many reasons. my new sister-in-law is a peach. her love for jesse and his daughters has brought tears to my eyes. the whole thing just glows with a hope and redemption that doesn't show up in life enough.

i had the carpets cleaned at my house yesterday. they look great. i am brought back in my mind to our honeymoon days, my house and mine. my friends were all circling wedding dates on their calendars and i was circling a closing date. i couldn't be happier with my decision (or theirs). i can't wait to show off my dear home to my family for the first time this weekend. we must find her something nice to wear.

my foot is still broken. it's pretty much at the same hurty-level as it's ever been. i can't really shift blame, here, except to my stubborn foot, but that would be counter-productive, would it not? i can say with certainty that practicing the moon-walk does not sit well with the lateral sesamoid.

i think i'll go to sleep now. as i said, i'm getting old.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

business time

i've mentioned this before - it's been a real treat for me, over the past couple of years, to begin to really connect with people outside of the church. i've learned many things about what we have in common that have affirmed in my mind that all of us are made in the image of God. how beautiful.

now, every once in a while, a particular topic arises and seeing eye-to-eye becomes slightly more difficult. one of these topics is sex. sure, i get teased from time to time about my life-choices in this area, but for the most part, people just avoid the topic altogether.

in my experience, people avoid topics that they assume will cause the people involved to have to pick one side of an enormous conversation-chasm, over which no bridge can ever be built (think religion, politics). i assume this is why no one wants to talk to me about sex - they think that, because i'm a christian, we'll have nothing to say to one another that will resonate. that, or they think it will make me uncomfortable. it usually doesn't. i am an adult after all, and have seen a few R-rated movies.

i've decided that the chasm-fearing among us expect the conversation to go something like this:

chasm-fearing: hey katie, what's the big deal about people having sex before they're married?
me: what's the big deal? what's the big deal?! haven't you read the Bible? [scowl]
chasm-fearing: ...
[awkward silence as chasm-sides are chosen]

i hope that i'm never in the same building as that conversation. i got the chills just typing it.

sure, the Bible has a lot to say about sexy things. i googled the most popular parts of the Bible that talk about sex. most of the "don't do that" texts refer to "sexual immorality." when i noticed this, i thought to myself: "what, exactly, is sexually immorality?" immorality is defines as the quality of not being in accord with standards of right or good conduct. that's the opposite of helpful and specific. so, sexual immorality is sex that is not in accord with standards of right or good conduct. what standards? whose standards?

no. the people who wrote the Bible were not trying to be frustrating, nor is God trying to confuse us. rather, i think, anyway, this is when we need to remember that every part of the Bible was written by a person in a language to an audience in a cultural setting. i'm sure "sexual immorality" made perfect sense to those who heard it then (in their language, of course). but, what about those hearing it now?

for instance, sex was a much economically-significant when the Bible was written. women, with their dowries and such, were bought and sold, in a way, into marriage. part of their worth was their sexual purity, so if they had sex before they were married, or committed adultery once they were married, they were stealing, in a way, by detracting from their value. this is just one thing to consider when reading ancient texts about sex and marriage.

see, sex is tricky, though, because it's not like getting tattoos or eating pork. it can have real, soul-altering consequences. people are conceived, diseases are transmitted, intentions are misconstrued, lust clouds vision, deep connections are made (and than severed?), hearts are broken, self-worth is altered. all of this makes drawing the lines around "sexual immorality" a bit impossible. we know what's in the middle: rapists, pedophiles, and the like. [scowl] but we don't know what lies around the edges.

so, in order to discern any truth, we want to read these bits of the Bible in the context of the whole gospel story - a story of love, acceptance, grace, self-sacrifice, and reconciliation (all good things, right?). where does sex fit into all of that?

sure, i could try to build an argument here for not having pre-marital sex based solely on trying to protect myself and others from the heart-ache and general life-ache that can be brought about by people with even the best intentions. but, i think that at least some of you would say "katie, that's silly. all you have to do is be smart about it and you'll be fine. plus, the good usually outweighs the bad. wink. wink." and you would have an excellent point. maybe it is possible to have sex outside of marriage without stumbling into "sexual immorality," if only you are smart and mindful about it. maybe sex between two consenting adults in a committed relationship is all that God asks in this day and age. i will allow for that possibility.

allow me, then, to proffer my biggest reason for seeing sex as part of marriage in my life:
marriage is hard. fidelity (not just sexual) is hard. relationships are hard. through observing the relationships around me, i have learned this. i have also built a stronger resolve to have the best marriage in town. i want it to be life-giving. i want it to thrive like my basil plant. i want it so bad that i'm working on it even now, even though i don't even know if it will ever happen, or with whom it will be. i want my faithfulness to start now. i want to offer myself as a healthy, whole person. well, as much as i can, anyway. i don't want to place a U-Haul full of baggage at my betrothed's feet. maybe just a few suitcases. (plus, i think it would be neat (God-ordained, even) to only share that kind of vulnerable, spiritual connection with one person. call me sentimental.)

for me, this view of sex fits into the gospel. it's Biblical. it's practical. it protects me and those around me. it's loving. it encourages fidelity and intentionality in my life. it's for me and i think it makes sense.

so there. if you've read this, it's like we had the conversation. hopefully there was no chasm, and hopefully i've convinced you that sometimes there's something in the "because the Bible said so" answers even for those who could care less about the Bible.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

religion box blank

i could be watching veronica mars right now. i think i would rather be. but, the anxiety that grows within be as every day passes between blog posts has become too much to bear. therefore, i will put aside veronica, for this evening, at least.

i had a conversation with someone recently about, statistically, how many christians there are in america. i really don't remember the particulars of the conversation, but i do remember becoming irritated.

most people in this country, according to statistics, identify themselves as christians. i'm not really one for drawing lines between "real" christians and "fake" christians. if such things exist, i certainly hope it's not my job to make the distinction.

what does bother me, however, is how religion is identified with almost like a nationality - something we just are, by no choice of our own. christianity is an intentional journey. it bothers me when people claim it only because they don't want to leave the religion box blank.

if i called myself a painter, simply because my parents were painters, i would not be taken seriously. if i called myself a painter because i found the art form interesting, i would not be taken seriously. if i called myself a painter because, even though i wasn't really into art, if i were, it would be painting, i would not be taken seriously. why, then, when people give these reasons for calling themselves christians, is it often taken seriously?

i can only imagine that i'm not the only person who feels this way about their faith. any time that a person claims to be something that comes at a cost they haven't paid (for instance, learning to paint), someone will probably be slightly irritated, at least. i'm not really talking about seekers, or people unsure, but taking steps to find truth. i'm talking about people who have no interest in incorporating the spiritual into their everyday lives, but enjoy the christian label for it's let's-fit-in benefits. we're not supposed to fit in.

i'm not sure about how much i have sounded like a brat, whining about something that's not really important, but i urge you to let me know.

Monday, July 12, 2010

my foot is broken, my heart is whole

as it turns out, wearing stilettos and flip flops for several hours over the last weekend, and then working both jobs on my first day back, does not have any sort of healing effect on my broken sesamoid bone. sigh. my foot hurts. i haven't blogged in a little while, and what finally motivated me to do so was my hurting foot. that seems silly.

despite my complaining, which, believe me, is as irritating to me as to anyone, i had a really wonderful weekend in baltimore. i say weekend, but i left right after work on wednesday and didn't return until late last night. i went for a wedding and went early to help with weddingy things and to spend time with my dear friends and college roommates. there were four of us and as of saturday at about 4:30pm, i am the only unmarried one left. i'm very happy for all of them. i'm genuinely happy that each of them have found wonderful men who love them. at each wedding, my eyes teared as i watched my beautiful friend walk in white down the aisle. i can't really pretend, though, that everyone of the tears came from joy. for every few joyful tears, there was one, a small one, that was the only external evidence of a small part inside of me that was mourning. for every dear friend that gets married, i seem to feel less and less understood by the world.

i think that sounds strange, but i can't really think of another way to say it. oh wait, i just thought of an analogy. (who's surprised?) it's like when someone moves away. you're still friends, best friends, even. but, they can't really understand your life because theirs is so different, even though it was once the same. we both are growing and moving, but where we were once growing and moving in the same direction, we've now separated slightly. the distance between and the rate at which it grows depends on many things: how close you were to begin with, how many things you still have in common, etc.

i still love all of my married friends dearly, value our relationships greatly, am inspired by them and learn a lot by watching them; things that i know will come in handy one day. but, that doesn't really stop me from sometimes wishing that we were all young, single professionals, living in the same place, sharing the same joys and fighting the same fights. i sometimes even wish we were still in college. eh, maybe not really. i think i would just like to re-live some of our fondest memories. that would be nice.

all of this brings me to my next topic: singleness. i've decided that singleness is a skill and, like other skills, some people are naturally good at it, some have to work at it, some never even try it, and others, though they are forced to practice it, have such a bad attitude that they never really reap its benefits - like a little kid who's mother forces him to take piano lessons, but who hates it so much that he never improves.

i will be honest and say that i'm pretty great at it - singleness, that is, though i did take piano lessons. i don't know if it's a natural thing, or if it's only because i've had so much practice that i am such an expert, but now it is merely second-nature. it does seem, however, that for people who have not had as much practice as i, that singleness can be pretty tough, or even impossible to get the hang of. for some, this means that they're perpetually in relationships, which is fine, as long as they're healthy and functional, of course. i used to think/hear that it was important to be comfortable on your own before you can be comfortable in a relationship. while this might be "ideal," and probably good advice for teenagers, it no longer seems practical for adults. then again, i'm an expert at being single, not at being a serial-adult-dater, so i could be wrong.

the ones that i really feel bad for are those who despise singleness, but can't seem to get into a relationship. this seems to always end in a kind of irritating misery (like the little kid, sitting at the piano, not picturing an egg under each of his poised hands, but picturing an egg on the head of his teacher). i don't really have any sort of advice for these people, except "be happier; you can have lots of fun on your own and with other people that you love, or at least like," but i have my doubts that that's helpful. in my experience, nothing soothes the lonely heart other than companionship.

ice cream might work, too. not that i've tried that.

in the end, i never want to look back on a time in my life and wish that i would have appreciated it more. (after all, no one ever says "i wish i would have gotten married younger," right?) therefore, i try to appreciate every season that comes my way. singleness has been pretty good to me, and i think that our break-up might be a tough one, but i'm certainly willing to see (other) people if and when the occasion calls for it. ; )

Sunday, June 20, 2010

this could be heaven or this could be hell

hotel california is one of my favorite songs to cover. i think it's because it's so angsty. one of my favorite lines is the title that i've given this post. it's appropriate to this post because i want to talk about heaven and hell in a way that is very different from the way that i ever thought about them before the age of 21. many of you may shut down now, or may have not even read this far because the idea of a heaven and a hell is just so silly. well, maybe you'll think this is less silly. seriously, i'd like your thoughts, if you would be so kind.

in college, i wrote a paper about heaven and hell after reading some sermons by N.T. Wright, a brilliant new testament theologian. i've posted it below. i know that it's long, and that i should probably re-write it in a less academic, and more succinct way, but i probably wont, and i think the ideas are worth talking about, so here it is:


Kaitlyn DeConto

Dr. Kenneson

3 December, 2006

Introduction to Christian Theology

It has become clear to me, as of late, that my own beliefs regarding heaven, hell and related topics have been heavily shaped and influenced by extra-biblical ideas. The church of modernity, myself included, and even those outside of the church, have allowed imagination to supersede scripture. The most dangerous part is that we seem to be generally unaware that this replacement is occurring. As a consequence of coming to this realization, I have become responsible for exploring what, exactly, the Bible does, and almost more importantly, does not say about these issues. Truth in this area is essential because, besides the fact that to be more enlightened about my own faith is to be a more effective and useful member of the kingdom, what I find should influence the way I live my life.

In his three sermons, N.T. Wright presents a great deal of insight dealing with heaven, hell and the new life of believers after death. Some of these ideas he presents as those he has adopted himself, others he presents as noteworthy, but not necessarily found by him to be imperative. Though I do not agree with everything Wright has to say in these sermons, they have been very helpful in moving my mind away from the ever-debilitating “Sunday School box.” What I mean is that, by presenting me with ideas that differ greatly from my own, he has challenged me to either defend or abandon the assumptions that I have sustained since childhood.

Wright firsts engages the idea of hell. Of all his points, the one I found most helpful was that, contrary to what I had thought, a clear concept of hell is not delineated within scripture. He writes that “most of the passages in the New Testament which have been thought by the Church to refer to people going into eternal punishment after they die don’t in fact refer to any such thing” (92 Wright). After reading this, I decided to consult my NOAB. In the index, under “hell” I found only two entries: Mark 9:43 and Luke 12:18. Upon reading both of these passages, I soon learned, through footnotes, that in both cases, the word “hell” was actually referring to a place called Gehenna, which is a deep ravine just south of Jerusalem. This place had been the site of many human sacrifices and had come to represent eternal punishment by fire. Though this discovery was not altogether shocking, it was interesting to find that, when the word “hell” was used in the Bible, it was not in reference to the specific place of eternal damnation of which I had always heard. Rather, it was being used as a culturally significant metaphor.

It is true that there are other instances in scripture where, though the word “hell” is not used, the subject matter seems to be pointing to a certain judgment inflicted upon those who refuse repentance. Wright explains that, similarly, many of these do not refer to eternal damnation of souls after death, but rather, an earthly punishment for those nations that act in defiance of the sovereignty of God; a sort of “marriage” of hell and earth. In Wright’s words, “Horrific judgment – this-worldly judgment, the devastation of cities and the tearing apart of nations – will follow the decision to go on worshipping other gods” (94 Wright). This idea provokes a much different perspective. Not only is hell not necessarily a physical, fiery place “below” us, but it can also be tasted here on earth.

One idea Wright presents, and then rejects, is that, by continually disregarding the will of God, humans can, in effect, de-humanize themselves. Those who are “unsaved” are then, at the time of death, no longer human and therefore lose the immortality of the soul. This idea, as explained by Wright, is called the “‘conditional immortality’, that is, the granting of immortality only to those who are saved, and the annihilation of those who are not saved” (95 Wright). Even though Wright states that he does not believe this, it is still an interesting thought and, I believe, a noble attempt to harmonize the justice and grace and God.

While trying to determine how these ideas compare with the doctrines concerning hell that I have been familiar with, I realized that, perhaps because of the limited information that is available, this topic had often been glossed over and the only ideas that I had to begin with are as follows: eternal, painful separation from God. The physicality of the place was blurred, leaving me with a vague notion full of holes that have been, subconsciously, filled by Dante. Therefore, the greatest help provided for me by Wright through this sermon was not necessarily a description of what hell is, but what hell is not necessarily.

Wright’s discussion of the reality of heaven was equally enlightening. Perhaps one of thd most important things that this particular sermon accomplished was to name the popular idea of heaven oppressive and incorrect. The author writes that “[the traditional] idea of ‘heaven’ has been used to back up exploitation on the one hand and dry-as-dust moralism on the other: because this strange distant place exists, and because you might want to go there yourself some day, you’d better behave nicely here – which often means, you’d better sit down, shut up, and don’t be a nuisance” (99 Wright). Though I have often felt uneasy about the “reward for being good” attitude toward heaven that seems to be ubiquitous in western culture, I would never have had the (what I would have considered to be) audacity to deem it oppressive, for fear of being heretical. Fortunately, Wright helped to free me from this train of thought so that I might explore what, exactly, the Bible does have to say about heaven.

What does the Bible have to say about heaven? To answer this question, I, again, consulted my NOAB. Surprisingly, I found not one instance in which the word ‘heaven’ was used alone. In almost every case, the phrase that is used is the ‘kingdom of heaven’ or the ‘kingdom of God.’ In Matthew 13, Jesus uses several parables to help his disciples understand the kingdom. Not one of these parables paint a picture that looks anything like the heaven I have thought to be true. Rather, each of the stories explain an idea that sounds more that the ideas presented by Wright. These ideas depict heaven, not as an other-worldly place, far, far away, but rather, another dimension of this world. Wright explains that “[heaven] is all around us, glimpsed in a mystery in every Eucharist and every act of generous human love” (100 Wright).

There are, at least, two reasons that my idea of heaven is vital to the way that I live my life. First, if heaven is somewhere distant, then that would force the conclusion that Jesus is somewhere distant. Secondly, if heaven is, indeed, a place that is all around us, begging to be sought, then my duty is no longer to keep my ‘admit one’ ticket to heaven, but rather it is to work everyday to see it realized here on earth. Consequently, my responsibility shifts from being only to myself, to incorporating my community here on earth. It is a call to live counter-culturally in a world that is driven by a quest for power, as Christ did, so that the kingdom might be spurred, as it was through the life and death of Jesus. Wright writes that “over against the love of power, the ascension of Jesus sets the power of love” (103 Wright).

This new definition of heaven raises a new question: if heaven is something that can be seen on earth during life, then what happens to believers when they die? My previous thoughts on this subject did not exceed closing my eyes on earth and opening them in heaven, where I would live forever praising God with my new and perfect, though not tangible body. I had heard something about the dead raising from their graves, but I did not know enough, nor did I apparently care enough, to fit these ideas into my pleasingly simple chronology of the afterlife. In retrospect, the biggest problem I see with this view is that it completely disregards creation and everything physical. I often forget that God did make all of creation physical and tangible. Not only did He make it this way, but said that it is good. Considering this, it becomes more difficult to believe that nothing physical would be involved in the afterlife.

In light of this, I am increasingly led to believe that the fulfillment of heaven, much like the glimpses of heaven we now experience, will be a physical experience. Wright writes that “if what you hope for is the renewal of this world, rather than the abandonment on this world, then resurrection follows naturally” (109 Wright). Paul wrote to the Corinthians with this same message. I Corinthians 15:52a-54: “For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When this perishable body puts on the imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” Therefore, just like heaven is something to be experience during and after life, human physicality is something to be experienced, and even fulfilled after death. Wright explains that “our humanness is precious; God takes it so seriously that he has promised to bring it out, as it were, in a new edition” (114 Wright).

I have found many of Wright’s insights very helpful in my own theological journey. Though my research was by no means exhaustive, I have also found those of his ideas I chose to discuss to resonate with scripture very well, which is imperative to any theological thought, new or old. As in many other areas of theology, the discussion of the end times is not an easy one. There are no clear answers that can define for us what exactly happens when an individual life ends, the world ends, or even when humans engage the supernatural here on earth. Even though our scriptural sources of information are limited, it seems that the greatest danger when in an eschatological dialogue is not that we might not possess truth, thought it is important to be educated, but rather that we might assume that we do possess truth, therefore closing the dialogue and preventing our own education. Considering this, I am grateful that, through this assignment, my mind has been opened to future discussions that may aid my own pursuit of truth.


I liked reading this again after so long. I liked thinking of myself as more of an academic, learned, smarty-pants-type person than I am right now. It also makes me miss school and learning things. In keeping with my personality, however, I also like being out of school as a young professional, with a bit more freedom. The grass is always greener, I suppose.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

be a better world shopper

i have several, what i like to call, "blog life phases." right now, i'm in the "blog life phase" where i have a handful of not-fully-formed ideas floating around in my head, each with the potential of becoming a perfect post. the problem is that it takes time and energy to develop and type these perfect posts, time and energy that i'm being a bit selfish with, at the moment. actually, selfish isn't even really the right word because writing here helps me more than anyone, i'm convinced, so it's not really selfishness as much as masochism.

in any case, i took a step in the right direction this morning by creating titles for each of the perfect posts and saving them here (only i can see them until i click "publish") so that i will not forget them, and maybe, just maybe, i'll find it within myself to write them all in the near future.

by now, i'm sure you're pretty confused as to how the title of this blog is appropriate. you may have even decided that it's not. shame on you. no faith. everything i've written here so far is more of a parenthetical thought, or an FYI. the real post starts . . . right . . . now!

money is power. this, we know. so, whether you have a little bit of money or a lot, you still have some amount of power. don't fool yourself - even if you have very little money, how you use it is important. it's like a vote. sure, one vote may not matter, but if everyone acted according to that thought, then no one would vote, and then an election, which is supposed to interpret the wants of the majority, would be completely ineffective.

and in this money-spending vote, you don't have the option to abstain. i suppose it is possible to not buy anything, but for most of us, it's not considered a choice. so, we vote. we're always voting, every day we vote. every time we hand someone our credit/debit card or dollah dollah billz, we're voting in favor of that establishment.

this is beautiful and terrifying. why? the same reason that allowing every person in the country to help pick a president is beautiful and terrifying: equality is great, but it comes with a huge amount of trust, that the people with the power are going to use it responsibly. the problem arises when the trusted, powerful people don't educate themselves so that they can make an informed decision.

let's not be that person. if i'm going to vote in favor of a gas station, a grocery store, or a shampoo brand, i should probably know a little bit about it first. i wouldn't give my vote to a presidential candidate only because i thought they looked nice and so i shouldn't shop at a clothing store only because i like there clothes.

as globalization continues, large corporations gain more and more power - power we help give them, every time we buy their product. if they're not using that power responsibly, it's our duty to withdraw our support. it's the only way. but, like the presidential election, one vote doesn't matter unless it's accompanied by the majority, so let's educate ourselves and spread the word.

buying local is usually the best choice, but not always possible or practical.

of course, if i want to know about Wal-Mart's social and environmental practices, i can't really just go to their website and click on the link that says "why we're evil," i have to dig a little deeper than that. it's kind of an overwhelming and daunting task - researching every company we buy from. i completely understand this.

there are, however, some sites that make it easier for us. this is one:

that site is great place to start. i feel kind of silly writing all of this, because i'm by no means the greatest example of responsible money-voting, but i am finding it more and more important, and so appreciate resources that make it easier, like this site.

if you know of any other helpful resources, please post them for all of us aspiring responsible citizens.

happy shopping!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

from the horse's mouth, sort of

a little over a month ago, i was invited to be a part of a team that would travel to haiti to do a bit of volunteer work. to my sadness and frustration, i was not able to use my vacation days for this purpose. i don't want to talk about it, but i will say that if you know/hear of any great jobs, let me know.

though i wasn't able to travel to haiti, members of my family were. one of these was alisha, my cousin-in-law. upon returning, she wrote an email to all of those of us back here who were supporting the trip in thoughts and prayer, if not in physical presence. she added a story at the end of her email that i particularly appreciated, so here it is:

One afternoon our translator Enel took Aisha and me into town, and as we walked around we came upon a medium sized church vibrating with sound. As we approached, we saw that even though it was mid-day, the courtyard was filled with people. We made our way to the back of the church and saw that it too was full of people standing shoulder to shoulder, worshiping God and praying. But it was not only after the earthquake that Haiti hosted lovers of God. I'm told that during the month of December, the young people of the orphanage spent hours every night, on their own initiative, worshipping Christ and thanking him for his sacrifice. God allowed this earthquake, but not because Haiti lacks his lovers, anymore than Job's troubles were caused by his lack of love for God.

that's all. i just thought it was worth sharing. i made alisha's name above a link to her blog, so if you'd like to read more or contact her, have at it.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

that was just a dream some of us had

i'm sorry if the title of this post is misleading. it maybe made something inside you jump at thoughts of an interesting dream, a telling hope, or an inspirational story. this is none of that. it's actually just an update about me. i haven't written one in a while, and, assuming that not everyone who reads this works in my office (though i'm very grateful to those who do), i thought that maybe someone might care about what's going on in my life, i know i do.

what does that have to do with the title? well, first, i have already used at least one variation of "update" and "things" and any other more appropriate title, in the titles of past updates. therefore, i was forced to come up with something a bit more creative. second, i'm going to california tomorrow morning, and, as that is the case, i started thinking about different songs that i like that talk about california. mostly, i just inserted "california" for "carolina" in "i'm going to carolina in my mind," but when i realized my mistake, i turned to joni mitchell. of course. i love her, if you didn't know that. her blue album, i would say, is one of my favorite albums ever. she has a song called "california" and in it, she sings:

sitting in a park in paris, france,
reading the news, and it sure looks bad.
they wont give peace a chance,
that was just a dream some of us had.
**disclaimer - that might not be a perfect quote because it came out of my head, and not off of lyricsaz.com.

now you see - i stole a line for my title.

okay, on to the real things. i'm going to use a bulleted list, because that's fun.
  • i'm going to california tomorrow. actually, my flight leaves in less than 8 hours. it was a last minute sort of thing. my lovely aunt lori and uncle steve own a vineyard in northern california, and are commissioning my father and me to play some music there during a wine festival this saturday. my dad is staying all week and, i think, will be playing more music next saturday at my cousin's graduation party (yay for sara!!). i would have loved to stay, too, but couldn't take that much time off of work, and have a wedding in d.c. to attend on the following sunday. nevertheless, i am pretty ecstatic to be spending the weekend in wine country with my delightful family, even though i have to come back on monday.
  • as of june 1st, all of my tenants will be out of my house. steven is already gone. he bought a house about 2 blocks up the street from me (yay steven!!) and katie and suzanne will be spending the summer in costa rica (yay katie and suzanne!!). june and july will bring sub-letters, dancers in town for the american dance festival. august will bring the return of katie and suzanne, and the permanent replacement for steven. she came to visit this week and, though it was a short visit, it was a lot of fun and i'm convinced that there will be many more good times to be had, come august.
  • my foot is broken. i, perhaps, should have started with this one, since it's been the case for a while now. my foot had been hurting since, well i'm not really sure when. i'd like to say the late fall/early winter. i finally went to the doctor about a month ago, and they told me it was broken. that would explain all of the pain every time in engaged stilettos or the warrior pose. i have to wear a dumb boot now, and it's really becoming such a nuisance that i fear i may have forgotten about every other nuisance in my life. they all pale in comparison to this nuisance. ahg. i have given up the gym, even though i'm sure there's lots i could do, simply because i'm angry about being limited by a tiny, fractured bone in my foot. i can't wait tables, which has made me kind of poor - another nuisance, that really just adds to the annoyance of the primary nuisance.
  • i'm thinking i will audition for american idol this summer. the cities/dates haven't been announced yet, but i would like to say that i tried.
  • my job - bleh. i still feel generally un-valued (not even really undervalued, just un-valued) by the owners of the company, and then, sort of by default, by my direct management. it could be worse. i've taken on a very different sort of role (in addition to my other roles) in the textbook-publishing process that is proving to be fun. i get to work with art more - kind of managing the rendering, editing, organizing, naming, sending to freelancers. i'm not really sure whether it's actually fun, or i just think it is because it's different. only time will tell.
  • alisha and i are making big plans for overseas travel. a long-termish (probably no more than a year, but who knows) combination of volunteer work and run-of-the-mill backpacking. why? i think that "why not?" is a more appropriate question. more to come on that.
  • i've joined match.com. well, i actually joined in a couple of months ago. nothing has really come of it, and i'm pretty skeptical. i mostly did it out of romantic boredom (not sure if that can be a legitimate phrase, but let's run with it). it's kind of fun - getting emails and "winks" and then looking at profiles and deciding why it is, exactly, that there's no way. i've been on a couple of dates, and that's been good because the whole dating world still feels like another planet to me. mars, perhaps? i have more to say on the matter, but not here because that's weird. ask, if you'd like. it may or may not be weirder.
  • steven bought a ukulele, so that's fun.
  • i have every intention of taking a photoshop class this summer. we'll see.
  • i absolutely love glee.
  • i started posting twitpics of big rubberband ball that i have at my desk. i think they are great fun. they entertain me every time i post them and i know that other people look at them because there's a view counter on the twitpic site, but no one ever says anything about them. that makes it funnier because it creates or a sort of mystery for me about what people are making of my rubberband ball twitpics. if you haven't seen any of them, go here.

i guess that's it. i want to go to sleep now. thanks for reading this. maybe i'll write from california (she said, knowing full well that she would not...).

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Jackson Pollock-brain

i learned something. i learned it last weekend. i think i may have already "known" it, but you know how it goes - some things you can't actually know until you're there. for instance, when i was in school, i "knew" that it would be hard to find a well-paying job with a humanities degree, but now i actually know it.

i learned last weekend that fears and assumptions, no matter how well-founded they might be, come up against a particular and unavoidable challenge when spoken out loud (or written). also, the longer the fdars and assumptions go unspoken, the more they are challenged when they are spoken. i think that's because the longer things live only in our heads, the more we distort them. they may have looked like a Dorothea Lange when they went in, but they come out looking like a Jackson Pollock.

that's why it's important that we not let things live only in our minds for too long. not that there's anything wrong with Jackson Pollock, it's just that clarity, at least for me, is an important something when it comes to how i view the world around me.

and if we're being candid, which we are, because i'm the only one here, i've realized even more, how important it is that i write here - it keeps things from living only in my head for too long. even if no one reads it, at least mostly-formed thoughts on paper are more easily judged than less-formed thoughts floating around in my head.

therefore, speak to people, write to people, or even speak or write to no one. it's all better than having a Jackson Pollock-brain.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

people from that box

i like to think that i'm pretty good at figuring people out. i pride myself, mostly secretly because no one really likes people who pride themselves, in my ability to identify peoples motives, goals, and general tendencies, fairly early in the game. this type of intuition is very convenient to have, but, as i've been learning more and more, it is never, regardless of my incredible abilities of interpretation, a good thing to put people in a box before you actually know them.

(i do realize that this is taking on a sort of "don't judge a book by its cover, " children's story sort of theme, but apparently i need to go back and read some of those again.)

when i do this, this sick sort of people-filing, i'm really just hurting myself.

for instance, a lot of people get thrown into the "we'll never understand each other and so there's nothing to be gained from a relationship there" box. i don't really do it consciously - it just happens. how the person gets in the box is irrelevant. what does matter is that they get there, and usually stay there for far too long. it's problematic because i am indifferent to, or even avoid the people in this box - irritated by the hopelessness of the space between us. it's embarrassing to admit because, as i mentioned above, judgement is passed swiftly, and usually based on very little information.

over and over again, people from that box surprise me.

and of course they do.


because no one belongs there.

[exasperated sigh.]

this is one of those self-bettering truths that i often wish weren't so. i wish that there were some people with whom a relationship would hold absolutely no potential growth for anyone. that'd make life easier. there would be no guilt or self-sabotage in avoiding them. however, that's not the case. everyone has something to offer - a perspective that is, though perhaps completely different and uninteresting, or even maddening, one that will challenge our own to be more fully claimed or altered - both good things.

plus, i heard on the radio that interacting with people who challenge you on a regular basis actually helps prevent dementia, so there you go.

Monday, April 26, 2010

but i'm not the only one


ahg. ahg. ahg.

i want to talk about how the church is generally perceived by the thinkers of my generation and when i start to ponder it, ahg is the first and the second thing that comes to mind.

it's hard because i know that the church has within it many loving, open-minded, compassionate, and communicative people. why doesn't everyone else know that?

i have a theory. well, a theory that is made up of a bulleted list. i love bulleted lists.
  • no one wants to talk about religion--it's pretty much understood that christians have some sort of handicap that prevents them from seeing that what they say they believe can't possibly be true. and so many christians live in this strange state of wanting badly to talk about our faith with people with whom we have any sort of relationship, but at the same time being paralyzed by a fear that we might, in the minds of those around us, join the crazy ranks. and there's little worse than joining the crazy ranks. we work hard for credibility and, whether it's fair or not, we risk losing it when we talk about Jesus.
  • something worse than joining the crazy ranks is joining the crazy and assaulting ranks. "assaulting" isn't quite as fun a word as "crazy," but i can't figure out how else to describe the manner in which some past, present, and unfortunately future christians (individually, or as a church) try to communicate their faith. regardless of who i am, when i start to talk to someone about my faith, i'm continuing a conversation that that person has already been having with any other "religious" person/institution in their life. this is particularly difficult here in the south as these conversations have often been long and damaging - assaulting. it's almost like if i had an identical twin who murdered someone. i would spend my whole life trying to convince people that i was trustworthy and maybe never really succeed. i might just want to hide in my room, only speaking to people who already knew me - to whom i didn't have to explain myself. that's a very tempting option for christians - hide in the church where no one will challenge.
  • this is kind of an extension of the previous point: because one of the biggest complaints that people have against christians is that they talk too much and listen too little, it becomes difficult to talk. but how will people know that we're different, if we don't talk? but how can we talk without making the same mistakes all over again? not without difficulty.
it's risky and difficult. we might say the wrong thing. people may not understand. they may say hurtful things. they don't mean to be hurtful. like i said: not without difficulty.

but it's worth it, right?

isn't it worth it? to let the world know that christians are really just people (regular ol' people) who follow Jesus, someone who, if you read about it, came to love, heal, teach, and to give us a chance at reconciliation. how we turned that into something crazy and assaulting is a mystery but hopefully we can make amends - convince people that we, though not perfect, are not our murdering twin.

Friday, April 23, 2010

now now now

once again, it's very late. i want to be asleep, but it's my final night of the five-blogs-in-five-days challenge, and i couldn't simply go to sleep with such an accomplishment at my fingertips. okay, it's not really that much of an accomplishment. some people blog every day. i'll try to blog more. i will. i will.

i'm not going to write much, mostly because i want to sleep.

what i want to say tonight is really something that i need to internalize, myself. people put a lot of pressure on themselves to make their lives look a certain way - have a certain career, certain body, certain partner, certain home, certain car - the list goes on and on. we all have an idea about what our lives could look like and should look like. take a second to envision that. it might not be specific, it might just be a state of mind, or even just a set of vague characteristics that will make you happy.

now that you have that in your head, you might either be excited, because you believe you're on your way, or depressed, because you just don't really see it happening, or know how to change that. it's the latter group that i often find myself in, and it's the latter group that i'd like to engage right now. so, all of you shiny, happy, on-your-way-to-the-top people can just stop reading right now. not really. that would hurt my feelings and you might become a bounce rate statistic for this blog.

now, second group, in my experience, those negative feelings often rest on me. i'm responsible for the direction of my life, and if i'm not making it happen, then it's my fault. this sort of self-loathing is how unhealthy complexes are born and perpetuated, and that just makes life difficult. i propose, for us, a slight shift in perspective. i've said this before - perspective is absolutely everything.

let us never be upset with ourselves for what our life looks like. that's silly and not constructive.


well, because we, our present selves, really only have control over one thing - the absolute present. the only thing i can control at this very moment is what i write here, because that's what's going on right now. do you see? life is a vast series of very small and very large choices, and if we just focus on making the decision right in front of us a good decision, then we will be well on our way. this attitude may or may not change the course of our life. (that's a disclaimer - i'm not offering advice that will change your life circumstances, per se.) but, it will make the life we have a happier one.

for instance. let's say that i wanted a new job because the one i had was slowly crushing my soul. i could complain to everyone who would listen and be angry with myself for not having a better job, but that wouldn't help anything. it would only make me angry and think poorly of myself and i need to get along with myself because i have no choice but to be myself.

if i, instead, whenever tempted to have this bad attitude of exasperation and self-hatred, were to look online for a job, or work on my resume - that would be me, doing what i can do at that very second to make my life into something that i want it to be.

as i said at the beginning, this is a message to myself more than anything else: i can only do what i can do at any given time, let the rest fall as it will, because it will anyway, with or without a shred of my concern.

this is where, as a christian, i should have some sort of advantage. though i'm kind of unclear as to what God actually moves and changes in my every day life, trusting that things that i can't control will work out - looking for the good in everything, for the hand of God, is healthy. it, when done properly, allows me to focus only on what i can do in my tiny little sphere of influence, and if we all did that, all the time, our tiny spheres would make up one, giant, worry-free world.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

katie and the south

i wrote a blog, a while back, entitled "katie vs. the south." it was about gender roles and sexism in the south - misogyny, to be more precise - as a woman, after all, i have no clearer view of discrimination than of the sort which is inflicted upon me. i was rather hung up on gender questions, as you can tell from the content of my blogs during that period.

this post, however, will be nothing like that. i would like to balance things here by discussing some positive observations that i have made during my time below the mason-dixon. i decided upon this topic today, as i drove from durham, north carolina, to johnson city, tennessee, through virginia. i've made the drive from here to there and back again several times and have never been through virginia - thank you, GPS. yes, i was in three states today - of america, that is. i will make no comment on how many states of mind i have visited since waking this morning :)

i was driving through beautiful mountains, windows down, hair dangerously flying in front of my face, singing along to wagon wheel by old crow medicine show. i began to realize that i really have come to have a very special place in my heart for the south.

it wont deny that it's been a long process, and there is still something inside of me that feels akin to shame when i make this confession. (i suppose it's that feeling that causes me to refer to it as a confession.) i think that when you're raised in the northeast, you are programmed to believe that all other areas of the country are inferior to your own. (except maybe the west coast because california and seattle seem pretty hip.) the south is no exception, and is actually, i would say, at the top of the unwritten list of regions to which the northeast is superior. i say the list is unwritten, but i'm sure you wouldn't have a problem getting one of us to write it out for you.

for these reasons, combined with the misogyny, country music, and artery-clogging food, i was somewhat slow to come around. i viewed my life in the south as a horizon-broadening sort of experience, but certainly not something that could in any way compare to living in the great northeast. the proud yankee in me is by no means dead, and i'll argue the outstanding merits of the region with anyone who will fight back, or even listen, but my attitude toward the south has gradually, certainly, and unexpectedly changed.

who could possibly hate the south while listening to wagon wheel? it's just not possible. even my proud clam-chowder-filled heart swells when the banjo starts to play and my mind relives even just a small fraction of the good things i have experienced here. i smile bigger than i usually ever do when i'm alone and i get all happy inside.

the landscapes around here give me this warm feeling. the landscapes look pretty much identical the ones i enjoyed growing up in new england, when they weren't under feet of snow, of course. and what i can't figure out is how looking at basically the same thing, only in two different places, can make me feel two, both delightful, but distinct feelings? it's strange, but it happens. i think that the drive between ashville and johnson city might just be the most beautiful on earth.

the culture is interesting. i believe that one of the reasons that we northeasterners feel so justified in believing that we're the greatest is that we have such history and culture all around us. the south certainly has no shortage of culture and, while i might not understand or appreciate all of it, i can definitely see the value in it, especially after spending a year in florida. (it was a great year, but trading the freedom trail for strip malls wasn't the best deal i ever made.)

the weather is generally pretty great. i wish there was more snow and snow plows, and maybe a little less humidity, but i can't complain when i get to wear t-shirts in march. maybe that's why the landscapes make me feel warm - because i'm actually feeling warm.

i already knocked the food, and i have a standing rule that, if i can help it, i try to avoid restaurants with "biscuit" in the name, but i will say that the southern culinary tradition of "casserole" and "salad" as words that can aptly be applied to just about anything on the table, is quite impressive. the word casserole used to make me cringe, but now it just makes me get ready to cringe because it could be delicious or disgusting, you just never know.

alright, i think that's all for now. i'm sorry, my dear southern friends, if this wasn't mushy enough for you. i'm getting there, bit by bit.

it doesn't help that i'm living in the triangle, which, as i am reminded every time i venture beyond it's perimeters, doesn't really count as the true south. i do love it, though - the pseudo-south is just great. i could write a-whole-nother post about that, but i fear it wouldn't be of interest to those of you who don't live there. it would kind of be like if i wrote a whole post about why the patriots are awesome. not great for, umm, wide readership.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

almonds and pistachios

i drive myself absolutely nuts.

i am constantly having epiphanies about what it is, exactly, that is wrong with me.

i think it started kind of late in college. i thought it was interesting to evaluate myself, examine how i interact with people, identify a certain weakness or tendency, find the cause, and then try to fix it. then, in the beginning, i think, it was a good and healthy practice. it was like i had a small man in a lab coat inside my brain, nodding, and taking notes on a clip-board. it wasn't so bad. it was nice to be figuring out what made me tick. as i get older, i am fascinated by how much i have learned about myself recently, even though i have been myself, now, for over two decades.

getting back to dr. katie's-brain: now, it's like the dear doctor decided that the job was too big for just his little self. so, he got some funding, posted an ad, sorted through resumes, and hired a whole team of little doctors in lab coats to live inside my brain, nod, and take notes on clip-boards. too often, they present to me their dissertations regarding why i am any number of things: single, afraid of failure, insecure about my abilities, just to name a few. i take these theories, i mull them over, and they seem to make a lot of sense. "i mean, there must be some reason, right? and this is as good as any. nay, it's the best there is, surely," i think, like every other person whose head turns into a dollar sign when they are looked upon by self-help authors.
then, once i finally have everything figured out, i present the idea to someone, like i'm some sort of self-analysis guru. they don't know about the team of doctors, after all, so why shouldn't i take credit? the response is never, really, what i expect. it goes something like this:

me: hey, alisha. so, i've finally figured out why i sometimes have a hard time getting to know people. i think it's because i'm generally pretty awkward when i meet new people.

alisha: that's not true at all, and now i think you're nuts.

like i said - not what i expect, after long hours of self-scrutiny.

so, i've decided - me, NOT the team of tiny doctors - that, in an effort to be less crazy, i'm actually becoming more crazy. go figure. i will call it ironic in the actual sense of the word, and not in the alanis sense of the word (awesome, but lacking a certain using-words-correctly quality).

there you have it. and, before you think you're so clever: I know that this whole post in itself is me practicing the self-destruction i just spent at least some time describing.

i get it. and to you, oh clever one, i say: baby steps, dear, baby steps.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

i almost waxed indignant while eating triscuits and swiss

okay. i'm having an issue here because the only thing that i really want to write about is my job, but i can't really bring myself to do it. isn't that a cardinal rule of something? don't blog about your job! i'm pretty confident that no one in authority over me cares enough to find my blog and read it (if they did, i might have less to write), but still, i am nervous.

so, here it is: the blog i began to write but then couldn't tell how far was too far and so decided to quit while i was ahead.

sorry it's not complete, maybe i'll finish it one day.


it's impossible for me to gauge how much of what i have said about my job without going back and reading old posts, and i'd much rather just not know.

no job is perfect, i'm pretty sure of that. i know that some people absolutely love their jobs, but even then, i don't think they'd call them perfect. i don't blame the jobs - we humans are pretty fickle beings who don't like being told what to do, even by ourselves. so, we are left in a state of trying to discern whether or not the good outweighs the bad. unfortunately, for many of us, the big, heavy scale-tipper on the "good" side is that staying at the job we have means that we don't have to get another one. we become snared by a combination of laziness and fear of the unknown.

i have been working at this discernment/balancing act for some time now. i've been at my job about a year and a half and have wavered between enthusiasm and disdain. i am fickle, this i know. sometimes i find this cute and charming about myself, as i'm sure does everyone else, but not when it comes to my job. the pure frustration of being satisfied one day and fighting tears the next makes it difficult to find any sort of peace.


there you have it, or, don't have it. if you, for some reason, are unbearably intrigued, feel free to email me or something and i'm sure i'll have too much more to say on the topic.

Monday, April 19, 2010

one would think

one would think that spending most of my time with people who don't share my faith might weaken or dilute my faith.

the opposite is true.

filling my life with conversations with people who don't claim Jesus has had a very interesting effect: my faith has been affirmed, so very affirmed.

this is surprising because, before this season of life, i spent most of my life with very few significant relationships with those outside of the church. no one ever told me to be afraid, but i was, a bit. i was afraid of being in a place where i would be judged and rejected, and where everything i held most dear would be mocked.

i fear no more.

sure, i am not completely un-mocked, un-judged, and un-rejected, but the discomfort, the pain, even, is nothing, really, compared to the relief i feel, knowing that i can really belong to truly secular communities.

Jesus lived as though every person was worth seeing and loving. i say i serve Jesus, and that means i serve people. i connect with something inside of me that says that my well-being should be inextricably bound up in the well-being of other humans, any other human that it is within my sphere to impact - be they a friend, co-worker, or a poor farmer on a continent i may never visit.

when i connect with other people, even people who generally avoid christians like the plague, and when we discover that we're really not that different - we share that concern for the friend, the co-worker, and the poor farmer - my faith is affirmed. i was created to love, and so were they. they might not see it that way, but they inspire me because their compassion makes them more faithful followers of Christ than some people who claim His name.

sometimes i think, as christians, we lose the forest for the trees. we concentrate too much on the means, and not enough on the end. if we lift our gaze just a bit, to what it is that we're really trying to bring to pass, we might lock eyes with others who are looking there too, others with whom we never expected to share anything. and isn't that what Jesus did? share with the unexpected?

*therefore, i urge you brothers, do not think of yourselves more highly than you ought, but give those around you a chance to surprise and inspire you. let us allow ourselves to think that we might just have as much to learn as we do to offer, when it comes to our exchanges with the "outside world."

*Paul wont mind the plagiarism, I'm sure :)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

they say it rots your brain

my mother was right. television rots your brain. to be honest, i'm not sure if my mom ever really uttered those words, but someone's mom did somewhere at some point, and now i'm learning it firsthand.

about a month ago, i started watching gray's anatomy from the first episode on dvd. i finished the first two seasons and then moved on to glee. i've also been keeping up with american idol, the office, 30 rock, and snl. now, my most faithful of blog-readers will have connected by now that it has been just over a month since my last post and, that's right, i'm blaming tv. the shows that are airing weekly, which i enjoy via dvr, are not so much the problem. it's those confounded shows on dvd that ruin my life. i will come home from working 2 jobs and think to myself, "katie, sure you have something brilliant to write about - an insightful piece of perspective or didactic little short story - but no, you deserve to sit and watch 3 episodes of gray's stupidity. sure, your room needs to be cleaned and the kitchen floor is sticky, but instead of seeing to those things, you should probably watch glee until your eyes start to close."

ahhhhhhhh is all i have to say about that. anyone who knows me knows that if i am watching something on tv, be it "good" or "bad" television, or even a movie (though i have less tolerance for bad movies) the rest of the world fades away. it's strange, really. the house could be on fire, and still i will gaze upon the flickering screen. i can't really abide chatter during movies or television, unless it adds something or makes me laugh - it's part of my condition.

all of this to say - i think i enjoy television and movies more than a lot of people, but it's for that reason i feel the need to temper my consumption. kind of like an alcoholic with booze. i know what you're thinking: "but katie, an alcoholic probably shouldn't have a tempered amount of alcohol, they should have no alcohol at all." and to that i say: "well, friend, that's where the analogy fails." seriously, i just need to really monitor my series-on-dvd consumption and i'll be fine. if, let's say, in a few months, i haven't written anything, you come to my house and find me in a katie-shaped hole on my couch and a remote fused to my hand, that's when you can stage an intervention. it's not so much that i watch an unhealthy amount of tv (or have been recently), i have just been spending an unhealthy percentage of the small amount of free time i do spend at my home, watching tv instead of cleaning my house or writing - two things that i used to be pretty good about keeping up with.

i hope you know that i'm being unnecessarily dramatic and don't think me some sort of recluse. on the contrary - if i were smarter, i would connect this problem to my general lack of down time. the fact that i really enjoy sitting for so long should probably clue me in to the fact that i do too much general "going." i will not, however, come to this conclusion, but will simply say that i should write and clean more, even if it means watching less.

as a sort of side note, i would like to say that i don't think that i really like gray's anatomy. the more i watch it, the more i feel like the characters aren't real people, and i must have real people. they do crazy things all willy nilly and often out of character, it seems just for shock value. i have the first disc of the third season from netflix, so we'll see if that ever finds its way into my brain before it finds itself back in the mailbox.

glee, on the other hand, is much more clever. it is obscenely cheesy, but so full of self-mockery, that you can't help joining in. i'm trying to finish the dvd episodes before it starts airing again. that way, i will have no more shows on dvd, hopefully, and my life can return to it's previous prolific and organized state.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


i figured i should write something.

i have some ideas in my head for real posts, but blogging is funny - i have to be in the right mood, or i just wont do it.

i'm in the mood now, but not for anything serious - i need to go to bed.

i've been having a strange, sluggish week. i've been throwing clothes around my room every single day - and not even in the kind of way that pricks me with guilt. i genuinely don't care that i can't see my little couch anymore. it's bizarre.

i've started watching gray's anatomy from the beginning. i decided to do in on a whim and i really believe that it has something to do with my disappointment regarding the zero romance that goes on in my life. i don't want to talk about it, but don't judge me, either. i'm only 1.1 seasons in, but it doesn't seem so bad, especially when i compare the amount of questionable content to the amount of satisfaction i get from the lit up faces of actors.

my household now includes 4 people, 5 guitars, and 1 bearded dragon.

i've discovered luna bars. they're great.

i applied for a job a few weeks ago. i haven't heard anything.

i think i've turned my back on grad school, at least for now. i've gotten to know several grad students (that'll happen, here in the triangle), and they all say the same thing - don't go to grad school unless there's no other way to do what you want to do. if i do it just because i think it's a better option than what i'm doing now, and that it will probably open up more professional opportunities, i'll just end up hating my life. well, great. finding a graduate program, though challenging, seems easier to me than finding a better job.

i do want a better job. i like where i work, and most days i even like what i do there, but there are still those days that make me feel like a first-grader in a kindergarten classroom. the one perk of that scenario would be that, as a first grader in a kindergarten classroom, i would probably be the star student. my real-life situation provides no such silver lining. let's just say that this particular teacher(s) aren't easily impressed.

i don't really think i'm too good for the job that i have, if that's the impression that i'm giving. i don't. i'm a 24 year-old humanities major. let's be serious. i think it has more to do with the time that i've spent there and the the fact that i haven't heard so much as one "you're good at what you do," or "we're glad you're here" from the powers that be. it just makes me feel that i haven't accomplished anything and then begs the question: what i am working toward?

that's some days. other days, i'm blissfully happy with my life and kick myself for not just having a better attitude. i really should just have a better attitude, for everyone's sake.

well, hopefully there will be more to come soon. i can't bear to look at my dismal google analytics stats anymore...

Sunday, January 31, 2010

where she's been

her tiny, tired legs struggled to carry her body over the snowy sidewalk. we had already lagged far behind the rest of our sledding party, and i could see the house--our destination--from where we were, but our pace promised that we would not be there soon.

"i just wish i could walk faster. i hate being so small." the laments of a five year-old always seem a bit ridiculous from the perspective of an adult. of course, she wont be small forever and soon she'll be able to walk just as fast as she pleases but, if i remember anything about being a child, promises of the future are seldom comforting.

"you're not small! you're just a perfect five year-old who is a perfect five year-old size. look, i can see the house! we're almost there!"

my fake enthusiasm had little effect as far as lifting her spirits, but she did lift her body and begin to trudge, very slowly.

i knew that she just wanted to be back at the house - warm and dry with hot chocolate to end an afternoon of sledding. i wanted that too.

her current mood was starkly contrasted by her demeanor earlier in the day as we walked that same sidewalk, in the other direction. she had never been sledding before and was bursting with excitement from the moment we left the house. she skipped down the street:

"this is the best day ever! i love this day!" she repeated, over and over again. the little north carolinian-born girl had seldom seen snow, and maybe had never seen this much. i certainly hadn't ever seen that much in the south--8 inches or so.

but, all of this was forgotten now. her small stride had stolen her joy.

for a minute or two, i began thinking about other things, and slowly widened the space between us.

that was, until i heard "wait up!" from behind.

i turned around and saw her walking toward me. she was not walking on the sidewalk. she was walking where the grass would be, if it weren't for the deep snow. i was slightly irritated.

"why don't you walk on the sidewalk? it'll be easier because there's not as much snow!" i coaxed her, not understanding why, in all of her frustration and weariness, she would choose the most difficult path.

"i like it! i like to make tracks!" she responded, as if i should have known.

i couldn't help but laugh and i certainly couldn't argue. of course she wanted to make tracks. and she will continue to want to make tracks. she will continue, i hope, to walk in the deep snow, even though it's harder, just so she can see, and everyone else can see, where she's been.

Friday, January 29, 2010

you're welcome in advance (scone recipe)

a couple of weeks ago, i had a small gathering of women at my house:

Tea, Scones, and Bridget Jones

i was very excited about this - the movies, the crumpets, the devonshire cream, the lemon curd, the tea, and (of course) the scones!

my only problem was that i had never actually made scones before and here they were, right in the title of my shindig. typically, i don't really hesitate when it comes to cooking new things - i just do it and it usually turns out fine. cooking isn't rocket science and i usually don't set my sights on anything "advanced." anyway, from what i had heard from the respected chefs in my life, scones could be a bit tricky to get right.

tricky scones+my first time+scones in the title of my shindig=a wee bit of anxiety

to make a short story very long....here's the recipe that i found/altered/enslaved. for those of you who were concerned for me and my scone party, you can relax. the scones came out perfect and a good time was had by all. that's why i'm posting the recipe.

  • 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons baking powder (weird, i know)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar (or brown sugar. see below)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk (or kahlua. see below)
  • however much of whatever "filling" you want to use (see below)
this is what i used for two different types of scones:

darkberry scones (made-up name, pictured above):
  • a little less than one bag of ghirardelli dark chocolate chips (we got hungry before it was time)
  • one small package of fresh raspberries
kahlua spice scones (made-up name):
  • 3 tablespoons and one teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 tablespoons of kahlua (to replace milk above)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (to replace white sugar above)
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
now, in my limited experience, this recipe lends itself well to different types of ingredients, so whatever kind of scone you think would be delicious (and fun to name), go for it.

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (fahrenheit. this is america).
  2. Sift (or just make unclumpy) the flour, baking powder, sugar (brown sugar for kahlua spice scones) and salt into a large bowl.
  3. This next part is kind of annoying, so bear with me.
  4. Dice all of the butter into small cubes - about the size of a pea - and add to the dry mixture.
  5. Mix the butter cubes into the dry mixture with your hands - some of them will clump together. Rub any clumps between your hands until none of the butter balls are bigger than a pea.
  6. At this point, if you're going to add any fruit or chocolate (here i added the dark chocolate and raspberries for the darkberry scones) or anything like that, do it, and mix it all together (dry mix, butter balls, fruit or whatever) with your hands until everything is sufficiently coated with the dry mix.
  7. Mix together 1 cup of milk and the sour cream in a measuring cup. Pour all at once into the dry ingredients, and mix gently with your hands until well blended. Pretend your putting clothes on a baby or defusing a bomb or something. If you overwork the dough, I am told, your scones with have the density and appeal of a foot.
  8. The dough will be sticky and in clumps - it will not end up in one neat ball like bread dough or something. It will be somewhere between bread dough and cookie dough. Just make sure that all of the dry ingredients have been absorbed into the stickiness.
  9. It was at this point that I (for the kahlua spice scones) added 3 tablespoons (though, it was more like "shake, shake, shake, that looks good, right?") of pumpkin pie spice to the dough and just mixed it a little bit more - until it looked evenly swirly and nice.
  10. Here, you might want to wash your sticky hands, dry them, and flour them.
  11. Arrange the dough on a greased cookie sheet in little mounds about 3 inches in diameter. They can be pretty close together - almost touching, even.
  12. Whisk (or fork) together the eggs and 2 tablespoons of milk (if you're making kahlua spice scones - replace the milk with kahlua and also add one teaspoon pumpkin pie spice and one teaspoon brown sugar). Brush the tops of the scones with the egg wash (try to use it all) and let them chill out for about 10 minutes.
  13. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the tops start brown a bit.
  14. Take them out of the oven and use oven mits, for crying out loud. (see how i avoided a lawsuit there?)
  15. Top with whatever you would like and enjoy (the scones and all of the accolades). I recommend devonshire cream, some kind of jam and/or lemon curd. All good things - the British will be proud.
there you have it. please post success/failure stories or scone tips for those of us who plan on making many more scones in the future.

special thanks goes to cristin campo, who was my scone-making partner. we did it, kid. we did it.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

choose your own adventure

the thames

I, only seventeen and a novice traveler, was not entirely comfortable in my pronunciation of the name of the river that ran through London, but I loved it. I loved walking along it, being in a city, a modern, expensive, overdeveloped city and looking at a piece of nature that would not easily surrender control. It was a natural power amidst a jungle of created giants and that night, it was the perfect setting. It was sunset, and the sky behind Big Ben boasted colors that I thought only existed on postcards. I walked along the river, safe and dry on my lofty cement sidewalk. The still air rested at that very particular temperature, which made it impossible to sense. There was no warmth and no chill, no boundary between me and my surroundings. I strolled, weaving though the melting clocks of Dali sculptures and still feeling high from my ride on the London Eye. It was strange - to feel so intrigued by a place that millions of people call home, call ordinary. Then I came upon them - two men, one gently pulling a bow over his violin as he swayed - a dance that made music. The other, singing a song so full of passion that I could very easily have believed that it was me whom he loved. My heart swelled. I was experiencing the most romantic moment of my young life, and was alone, save two strangers whose hearts truly felt nothing but hope that I might be moved enough to drop something in the violin case at their feet.

this is where the story ends. i only write nonfiction. i know that many of you, tale-tellers, love to write fiction. please, if you would, finish my story. i hope to have at least a couple of versions - each a lovely collaboration - romance, adventure, zombies, whatever - a collection of little stories, each with the same opening. fun? do it. thanks.

please post your story here (facebook or blogger) for all to read.

love love