Posted in Christianity, Life, Thoughts

Beauty

Confession: I recently watched six seasons of Say Yes to the Dress in a month.

The show came up in conversation with my mom, and I wanted to watch some, but it’s hard to find. But I discovered six seasons on Hulu. I get lots of emails from Hulu offering a free month, so many that I suspect they’re desperate. So the next time I got one, I went for it.

My favorite moment in all that binge watching happened when one bride turned to see herself in the mirror wearing the wedding dress she liked and a veil. She instantly got emotional and said (paraphrasing because I don’t remember the exact words), “Now I know what [my fiance] sees. He tells me I’m beautiful every day, and I don’t see that, but now I can.”

It was very sweet. I cried.

It made me think, “And that is why these people do their job.”

Feeling beautiful and helping others see the beauty in themselves is, at its core, recognizing and appreciating God’s incredible creation.

It can be – and regularly is – distorted with pride and selfishness and all sorts of sinful attitudes.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. It can come with gratitude and humility and praise for the beautiful Creator of beauty.

And those were my brief, unexpected theological musings from a TV show about wedding dress shopping.

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Posted in Christianity, Thoughts

Still Without Seeing

Peter, apostle of Jesus Christ, sends greetings to all those living among foreigners in the Dispersion of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who have been chosen, by the provident purpose of God the Father, to be made holy by the Spirit, obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood. Grace and peace be with you more and more.

Peter walked with Jesus.

I mean, literally. They walked all over Judea together. I’m sure there was a great deal of sweat involved.

30-ish years later, Peter has possibly wandered even farther, to Rome, as many scholars think that’s where he wrote the book of 1 Peter (according to the ESV Study Bible). At this point, he has been walking without Jesus physically present for a long time. Now he’s writing to Christians in a group of Roman provinces, followers of Jesus dispersed among the world as the Jews were once dispersed from their homeland.

Blessed be God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy has given us a new birth as his sons, by raising Jesus Christ from the dead, so that we have a sure hope and the promise of an inheritance that can never be spoiled or soiled and never fade away, because it is being kept for you in the heavens. Through your faith, God’s power will guard you until the salvation which has been prepared is revealed at the end of time. This is a cause of great joy for you, even though you may for a short time have to bear being plagued by all sorts of trials; so that, when Jesus Christ is revealed, your faith will have been tested and proved like gold – only it is more precious than gold, which is corruptible even though it bears testing by fire – and then you will have praise and glory and honor.

Though they live among foreigners in this Dispersion, though they suffer, these sons of God know they are promised an inheritance, salvation, a home. When time ends and Jesus returns, they will receive it. With their precious faith proven, they will be honored. Though this homecoming is in the future, looking forward to it already brings them joy.

But unlike Peter, they have never walked with Jesus. Not literally.

You did not see him, yet you love him; and still without seeing him, you are already filled with a joy so glorious that it cannot be described, because you believe; and you are sure of the end to which your faith looks forward, that is, the salvation of your souls.

With the wording of that sentence, I can’t help but think that Peter must have had this story in mind, this story he lived and witnessed himself:

Thomas, called the Twin, who was one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. When the disciples said, “We have seen the Lord,” he answered, “Unless I see the holes that the nails made in his hands and can put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe.” Eight days later the disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. The doors were closed, but Jesus came in and stood among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. Then he spoke to Thomas, “Put your finger here; look, here are my hands. Give me your hand; put it into my side. Doubt no longer but believe.” Thomas replied, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him:
“You believe because you can see me.
Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

Jesus gave Thomas what he needed. I love that.

But he also talked about those who would believe without seeing him. This sounds like an offer for long past Jesus’ day, for the far future, for me. And it is. But it didn’t take long for the truth in Jesus’ words to become obvious. 30-ish years later, and already, already, “still without seeing him, you are filled with a joy so glorious that it cannot be described, because you believe”.

And now it’s 2,000-ish years later, and still without seeing him, we can believe and have sure hope in the inheritance God is keeping for us and have a joy so glorious it cannot be described.

It’s not always easy, but it is a possibility.

Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.

 

[1 Peter 1:1-9; John 20:24-29]

Posted in Life, Thoughts

Fall!

… is probably over.

Fall is my favorite season, and while in my head it continues through the end of November, in reality it’s always all too short. You get a few breezy, brisk, colorful days mixed in with the leftovers of summer and the beginnings of winter, and that’s really it.

But.

I’m pretty sure people go around commenting, “It’s been a really weird fall,” literally every year.

Maybe fall isn’t actually weird? Maybe your expectations are too high?

Just sayin’.

Posted in Life, Thoughts

Please Do Not

Have you ever been part of a conversation where a group of people are talking, and one person is part of the group but just listening, and someone abruptly turns to the listening person and says, “You’re very quiet”?

Speaking as someone who is regularly the quiet person in this scenario, please do not do this.

Look. First of all, I know I’m quiet. I’m often super aware. You don’t have to inform me.

Secondly, HOW ON EARTH DO YOU EXPECT ME TO RESPOND TO THIS? Really. I would like to know. Because other than an awkward, “Yeah, I guess,” I’ve never been able to come up with a response that’s not snarky and rude. Especially since I suddenly feel extremely uncomfortable, which makes it difficult to think.

Is that the goal? To make people uncomfortable? Because I don’t think it is. I think this is an attempt to make the quiet person feel noticed and included, which is a nice gesture, in theory.

BUT THIS IS NOT THE WAY TO DO IT.

Try asking them a question. Questions that require more than one-word answers are good if you want to make conversation. But really, you might even try just smiling at them. Or making sure to notice if they do talk. They’re more likely to appreciate attempts to make them feel comfortable enough to join the conversation than attempts to make them join the conversation.

Be more thoughtful and creative than, “You’re very quiet.”

Posted in College, Life, Thoughts

Life is Strange

I have a very short post for you today because I just wanted to share a weeeeeeiiiiiiiiiiird realization I had over the weekend, and I haven’t gotten past the fact that it’s a thing enough to have further thoughts on the matter:

I have now been out of college longer than I was in college.

That is all.

Posted in Thoughts

On Book Adaptations

Percy Jackson and the Olympians is one of my favorite book series. It’s one of the few things I feel like rereading allllllllllllllllllllll the time. I am, in fact, currently rereading the first book, The Lightning Thief, because there is a new illustrated version and I couldn’t resist. (And I must say, the illustrations are some of the best I’ve ever seen for actually paying attention to the details in the text and using them. I am impressed.)

In this series, Greek mythology is around in modern times, and modern demigods have adventures and save the world and all that fun stuff. I enjoy it very much. (There’s a second series, The Heroes of Olympus, which is also excellent. Can’t recommend the ones that come after that.)

As often happens with books that become popular, they made a movie of The Lightning Thief. I have watched it. It’s not the best movie. And it’s generally agreed that it’s among the worst book adaptations ever. Not only were there a ton of changes to the story, it didn’t capture the spirit of the book at all. They tried again with the second book in the series, The Sea of Monsters, and it did a tiny bit better, but not enough to save the movie series.

But. A musical of The Lightning Thief was created recently.

I have not seen it, sadly. I want to. I really want to. But I’ve listened to the cast recording many times now.

It captures the spirit of the book amazingly. I appreciate it.

AND THE DETAILS.

They got many big things right, but they also went above and beyond that. Someone obviously wrote the song lyrics with the book in front of them. Some things I have noticed while reading this time that made it into the musical:

  • The book’s first line is, “Look. I didn’t want to be a half-blood,” and this is Percy’s first line in the musical.
  • Book: “Being a half-blood is dangerous. It’s scary. Most of the time, it gets you killed in painful, nasty ways.” Musical: “Being a half-blood is dangerous, it’s scary, and mostly gets you killed in very nasty ways.”
  • “You got a problem with that?”
  • Book: “Like he’s ‘Big Three’ material,” Clarisse said as she pushed me toward one of the toilets. “Yeah, right. Minotaur probably fell over laughing, he was so stupid looking.” Musical: “Maybe the Minotaur died of a case of laughing too hard from seeing your stupid face.”
  • “Tough first day?”
  • Book: “Perseus Jackson,” Mrs. Dodds said, in an accent that was definitely from somewhere farther south than Georgia. Musical: Mrs. Dodds has an overdramatic southern accent, in a setting where most characters don’t.

One of my favorites that I already knew about is a line Percy says in the musical: “If I try to sing, it’ll probably cause an avalanche.” I first noticed the line because it’s fun and ironic because the actor’s voice is beautiful (see video below, which was my introduction to the fact that this musical existed). But then I discovered that Percy says this in the last book in the series.

The. Last. Book.

The people who adapted this story obviously knew it and loved it. This is how you adapt one form of art to another.

 

Posted in Christianity, Thoughts

“We’re Still Going to be Friends”

Once upon a time – maybe two years ago? – I was considering purchasing a new mp3 player because my music collection had outgrown my storage space. But my dad heard me talking about it, and he had some around he no longer used, so he donated one to the cause.

The one he gave me contained a bunch of lectures from Polishing the Pulpit, an annual lectureship originally aimed at preachers that has grown and extended to include everyone. When I put my own music on the mp3 player, I kept some of the lectures that sounded interesting, and occasionally when I have a long enough drive, I listen to one.

I’ve heard some excellent things. But I also listened to one a few months ago that’s been bothering me ever since.

It was about evangelism. I’ll be the first to admit this is not one of my strengths. I’m not too good at the whole talking to people in general thing, so…

The speaker said, in the context of a first Bible study after you’ve known someone a few weeks, “But remind them, ‘You may walk away from here, and you may never agree with me, but we’re still going to be friends.'”

Listen. If you’ve known me for a few weeks and you tell me, seriously, about ANYTHING, “If you don’t agree with me about this, we’ll still be friends,” you’ve lost any interest I had in the discussion. We are not friends. We’re barely acquaintances at that point. Unless we’ve been, like, stranded on a deserted island together and have confessed all our deepest darkest secrets, you don’t know me. You have no idea what makes me tick. I don’t know you. I don’t trust you. I don’t have any reason to expect you to remain any sort of important part of my life.

Maybe we have a pleasant slight acquaintanceship. Maybe we could become friends someday. But we are not friends.

Are there people in the world who would hear such a statement and take it seriously, find it reassuring? Am I the weird one? I know I have a much stricter definition of “friend” than most, but surely I can’t be the only one who would be turned off by this?

To a certain extent, it’s not bad advice. You shouldn’t stop being interested in and pleasant to a person because they disagree with you on religion. If you only get to know people so you can try to convert them and then you’re done with them once they’ve decided whether they agree with you or not, you’re treating them like projects, not people, and that’s a big problem.

But… Please don’t phrase it this way. Please don’t impose friendship that doesn’t actually exist. You may hurt your cause more than you help it.