Ash Wednesday

Yesterday I went to Ash Wednesday services at Grace Lutheran here in Springfield. The following are reflections I’ve had either on the service itself, on Ash Wednesday in general, or in response to events that occurred b/c I went to services.

I really like how there is no opening music or closing music during Ash Wednesday service. They allow for times of silence for prayer or contemplation. It would have been better if the two female ushers (who were around my age) weren’t talking through all of the beginning time, but…

It was the same main pastor and associate pastor as last year. EW and I were talking how it seems oxymoronic and odd to have such a traditional service with such progressive thinking all at once. This was in reference to how liturgical the whole service was and yet the associate pastor is a woman.

I liked the songs we chose to do and the placement of the songs. We only had organ music as accompaniment to corporate worship. I don’t have the bulletin, so I can’t tell you all the songs, but I can say I liked them. There was one about the breath of God in us that I particularly liked.

When I was younger and went to services that were more liturgical than services I now attend, I didn’t understand what was going on. It was all rote motions/actions. I enjoyed actually contemplating yesterday. I enjoyed actually listening to what I was saying and CHOOSING to agree with what I was saying.

catholic is an adjective meaning wide-ranging or liberal; all encompasing; the whole body of the church on earth. That was interesting to me since I was trying to actually mean what I was saying and not just blindly reading. When we did the Nicean Creed I had to think… this isn’t a Catholic church… what does catholic mean, then? Do I believe in one catholic and apostolic church? (yes I do)

I liked how we had responsive prayer that allowed time for personal confession but also incorporated corporate confession, such as how we treat our fellow humans, how we treat the enviornment, how we’re selfish and ignore God, etc. I liked that even though I’m not a part of that particular congregation, that worship, prayer, etc. can still be corporate because we all do belong to one church. I liked the corporate aspect of confession. That’s an aspect of being a christian that I don’t know much about and I don’t get to particpate in as much on a corporate level.

I like how this is a season to contemplate on one part of the Christian story (albeit a very important part), but that it’s still just a PART of the story. It encourages me to look at the story in totality. I’ve been very interested in Genesis recently, which unusual for me… but I think Christ’s suffering and sacrifice loose some of their significance if the story is not taken in its entirity.

I love that we’re still part of the story. I love that simply going to services and receiving the ashes allowed for conversations I might not have normally had. I had a great conversation with a co-worker about why I’m a Christian, when I became a Christian and why I believe certain things I do. I also got to have some good one-on-one converstations with my Jr. High girls about the differences in religious denominations and practices and why I was wearing ashes.

I liked being able to go up and kneel at the alter at Grace to recieve the ashes and communion (and to pray if I had so desired). I think that adds an element of being responsive that always staying in your pew doesn’t require.

Repentance: I know what that means… I know what I’m suppossed to say it means… and I know how to make it appear as if I’m a repentant person. There are definately actions/activities that I have repented of (turned away from) since becoming a Christian, but there are also those that I refuse to acknowledge (even in the midst of doing them), the sins you commit in secret, in the dark, in your head, in your heart… In talking to a friend earlier this week I was explaining that it’s hard to change the things that go on in your head. It’s hard to replace the lies with truth. Because in actuality, we LIKE some of the lies… they make us feel good, they make us happy for a time. When people talk about wanted to break free from the lies or break free from sin, they generally mean the lies and the sin that make them feel bad. The lies and the sins that make us sad or unhappy or angry, etc. We don’t want to acknowledge the things that we do that make us happy or make us feel great or make us smile as lies or sin. And when we don’t do that we can’t truly break free and begin to live the total freedom that Christ offers us. And I think my head has known that for a while. But for the first time I think my heart is starting to realize that as well. We’re called to lay down our lives to follow Jesus… to turn from the ways of this world to the ways we were CREATED to be. And that means sacrifice along with the freedom. Not all of the things of this world are things we WANT to give up… if they were there’d be a lot less athesists, agnostics, etc. out there, don’t you think? It does mean sometimes giving up something(s) you think is GREAT for something even BETTER. And I have to believe that there is that something better. It’s not something I feel right now, but it is something that I have to KNOW. I’ve chosen to give up some things for Lent this year (hopefully Lent is just the start of completely giving up)… and it’s not making me FEEL the happiest right now, I’m not jumping up and down about it. But I have to believe that what God calls sin IS indeed sin, and giving it up, no matter how good it makes me FEEL, will work out for the best in the end.

I wish, as an individual, as one part of a variety of relationships, and as a community, we took more time to pray together, to seek God together and to be God’s light in the community together. I feel my God fits in a box right now. Jenny (my coworker) was very surpised when I told her I didn’t become a Christian until I was 20 because, as she says, “But you’re, like, super religious now. Lots that you do has to do with the church, right?” It might be a big box, but it’s still a box. I wish I lived in His box instead…


The Other Boleyn Girl

So, I’ve veered some from my original list of books for the year. My roommate read The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillipa Gregory and I wanted to read it. It was both different and the same as I expected, though I know that’s going to be hard to explain. I had bought The Queens Fool at one point and began reading it and the opening scenes were pretty racy, so I was expecting a rather racy book. And it was, but not as much as other books I’ve seen or read. It was about the seduction and capture of King Henry VIII by Anne Boleyn, so you had to expect it to be pretty sexual in nature. Bethany told me she read one review that called this book sin and depravity at it’s very best. And indeed it was. Pure sin and depravity… but it spoke more on family and the relationship of family than it did anything else. In a time when family and family responsibility were everything and women were nothing but chattel to be bought and sold to gain family position and prominenance, the bond between the “three bolyens” in this novel took the responsibility people were suppossed to have towards their family to the brink and beyond. From Mary’s initial affair with the King to the eventual death of Anne and George, these three siblings redefine family loyality as well as the role of women in the British royal court.

The biggest things I’ve been pondering (albeit very limitedly, after all, this wasn’t read for the depth of the content but rather for the enjoyment of the story)

1– Anne’s decision to veer from her family’s authority and dominance would lead to her eventual downfall

2– Mary’s decision to follow her heart rather her family’s authority would lead to her freedom

3– Anne’s decision to rebel was driven by ambition, while Mary’s decision was driven by love.  And Mary always remained loyal to her sister and brother, despite the disloyalty Anne showed towards Mary.

Overall, I greatly liked this book.  I plan on reading the Virgin Lover next, even though it’s not on my original list either.

Forever in Blue

Well, I guess one of the only good things about being home sick is that you can read (when you’re awake).  I finished Forever in Blue, the final book in the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series.  I wasn’t overly impressed.  Yes, the girls learned to rely on themselves rather than the pants.  Yes, they learned to break away from what they were used to and ventured into new territories.  Yes, they learned that it’s hard to grow up and maintain friendships and that it takes work.  But it just seemed pretty blah how they came about all of this.  It seemed rushed at the end.  Things seemed too neat.  Yes, Julia was a horrible type of friend.  But it’s not that easy to come to such a realization and it’s not that easy to ignore her and move on from her.  Yes, Leo was a fling, a necessary part of Lena spreading her wings.  But relationships don’t wrap up so nicely, or fit in such tight boxes.  And yes, the baby scare was scary and Tibby was doing a pretty good freak-out, but struggles don’t tie up that nicely.  And, Bee, ah Bee… how typical that she would be attracted to a father figure when her relationship with her dad is so want of improvement.  There’s a SHOCKER!  All in all I was pretty disappointed.  The previous books were fun.  They might not have touched so much on the deeper issues, but at least they seemed real and not so sweetly cliche.

Hum, that was a rather negative review.  Sorry, I’m not usually that way. 

6 Weird Things About Me

Okay, Bethany tagged me on this.

Six Weird Things About Me:

  • Okay, I guess I’ll start with an explaination of sleeping with my arm above my head (for those who wonder why Bethany had to clarify).  Sometimes (rarely, now; I did this a lot when I was younger) I will sleep with one arm up in the air until I’ve fallen asleep and it just falls down naturally.  I don’t know why.  I do know that it in some way makes me more tired.  Again I don’t know why.  These are weird things after all, and that might just be my weirdest…. though I tend to be a rather odd cookie…
  • One of my favorite things to put on toast is Miracle Whip.  Just Miracle Whip, nothing else.
  • I’m allergic to epinephrine.  I don’t know anyone else who is allergic to epi (though there was a House episode, once, where the patient was allergic to it.)  It stopped my heart the one time they gave it to me.
  • I can have entire conversations with people without them being there… they happen in my head.  And I try to do it a lot less now, but it used to be a major way of communication for me 🙂
  • I can say the greek alphabet five times before a match burns out.  But I can’t speak Greek.
  • Whenever anyone says “grrr,”  I automatically thing “Arg… Wow… Mutant Enemy”

Hum, that WAS hard.  And I think I’m a relatively odd person.  Hum…

Though I have heard comments on how others (Bethany??) could make my list for me?  Give it a shot if you’d like 🙂 

Anyway, I want to tag Johnna and Anna Banana.

It’s Baaaaaaaccckkk!!!!!!!!

For 16 straight weeks we will have all new Lost episodes to watch.  Oh, my gosh!  I’m so excited!  Right now is a special with the show’s producters about the show.  That’s a cheery thing to end a relative blech day (as I’m still at home sick… I’ve been in bed for like 3 days now! (Except the hours I’ve spent at the doctor’s office both Monday and Tuesday… I’m still not sure if I’m going to make it to work tomorrow… We’ll see… Maybe by Friday…) )

Anyway…some interesting points as I watch (and then maybe some commentary about the show)… (and I’m terribly frustrated that some of the keys on my keyboard are sticking… yuck)

Quotes are by the producers….

  • “We see more of this monster”– as they’re showing us scenes of the black smoke!  They have just confirmed that the black smoke IS the monster… which I always assumed anyway…
  • “The characters start out as archtypes.”  They talk about how certain ones then develop, but the initial characterization of all of the players sets them up as people viewers can relate to and like…  which I find very intersting… archtypes have a tendency to have trouble becoming fully developed round characters.  The archtypes of a story are generally the static characters that allow the progression of the development of the changing characters… hence they are archtypes… they are defined by who they are and how they always act…that’s what allows them to be archtypes… they’re the characters that we see when we hear “cheerleader” or “leader” or whatever… 
  1. Archtypes they mention:
  2. Jack’s the doctor, the leader
  3. Kate’s the runner— the person who always flees from problems, or even just committment, even when that’s good
  4. Sawyer’s the loner, the one who wants to depend on noone
  5. Locke’s the provider
  • Jack is the guy Kate should be with, but Sawyer is the guy who is like all of the other guys in her life… the bad boys… what she’s used to…. or so the producers say.  Blech… I want Kate to be with Sawyer… but that doesn’t hold any change of character for her…. 
  • “The Island has mystical, magical powers… at least some of the characters think so”
  • “Why is the island providing these tests?  Will it lead to their eventual redemption?” 
  • “You live and re-live and re-live the issues that were hard for you off the island.”
  • paraphrase… the island allows the chance for people to start over, redo the things they want to redo… start over… if they choose to. 
  • paraphrase:  Some of the things that happen seem to happen outside the bounds of science that make some of the characters think that something bigger is working… an outside force.
  • easter eggs…additional little things that if you catch them shows that these lives are connected not just on this island…
  • the others see themseles as the good guys….”some others are badder than others, some others are gooder (sic) than others” 
  • Desmond seems to have some pre-cognative ability
  • alright, the producers have also said that they ARE on a different smaller island
  • Heat and chemistry between Juliet and Jack… we don’t know whether to trust Juliet or not… hmmmm… I already know that, but I’m still not sure about whether she’s good or bad… she seems truly frustrated with Ben in the first scene when we see her asking whether free-will still exists on the island…

General notes:

this is a terribly amazing show… it’s so confusing… it’s weird how it’s so compelling.

AND HERE WE GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I’ll blog more on the episode later 🙂

Book Review

Okay, so I’ve finished 4 books on my list of books for this year; Twilight and New Moon by Stephanie Myers and A Great and Terribly Beauty and Rebel Angels by Libby Bray.  All of them are young adult novels.  Stephanie Myers’ books are the first two in a trilogy about a teenage girl who falls in love with a vampire and the trials that come with that.  Libby Bray’s novels are the first two in a trilogy about a 16 year old girl who comes into the ability to enter “realms” as a “most high” one of the “order,” a mythical secret society of women who control all magic in this world and in others.

Analysis… I like Young Adult fiction as an escape from “real” life or “real” reading.  It’s not deep or intellectually challenging at all, but generally you can find a good plot with a good story.  I really like where the Myers’ trilogy is going.  It’s not poorly written and the story is interesting enough to keep me reading. (I should mention that these novels are all between 400 and 600 pages somewhere…. I think Harry Potter made a new trend in YA fiction).  Bray’s novels keep me slightly engaged in the plot, which allowed me to finish the two books, but her writing is not fantastic, and some of that could have been helped by a better editor (can we say, “hum, when a character leaves a room on page 400, she cannot say something to the group on page 401 without reentering the room!”)  Anyway, she’s not the greatest writer, and I initially thought she was pretty predictable, but I must admit, I was discovering things at about the same pace as the characters mostly (though I must say her characters are pretty dense for 16.  I know they’re suppossed to be self-asorbed, but these girls are beyond this.  There are times I wanted to yell, “Idiots, just because you don’t understand something doesn’t mean it’s meaningless.  Use your brains and try to figure some things out!)  And another thing about Bray… she’s obviously anti-Christianity and portrays this in her novels.  I’m pretty sure I don’t like that.  Take the title of the second novel… she takes it from Milton’s Paradise Lost and it refers to the angels that declared loyalty to Lucifer when he decided to fight for power in Heaven.  Bray contends that there is a bit of Rebel Angel in all of us and that it’s okay for these girls to let this Rebel Angel out.  She has her characters question the very nature of good and evil, contending that there are only choices to be made.  There were times when I disagreed completely with things she was saying and times when she presented her case in such a way that I found myself saying “hum.”  And I’m not an impressionable teenager.  So….

Verdict:  I recommend reading Myers’ books, but do not suggest Brays.

Next on the list:  Forever in Blue:  The Forth Summer of the Sisterhood