Thursday, June 23, 2011

Now I Want Yogurt

It’s back! The Burn Notice season premiere tonight signifies the start of summer programming. Besides providing us with an example of the proper use of a Ke$ha song, the much-anticipated kick-off relieves some serious television ennui. The season finales of Castle, Bones, Chuck, The Office, Parks & Recreation, House, NCIS, Community, Hawaii 5-0, Glee, Big Bang Theory, and all other primetime staples were over a month ago.
Thankfully, USA Network’s program schedule is just gearing up with new episodes of In Plain Sight, White Collar, Covert Affairs, Royal Pains, and of course, Burn Notice (aka, The Show That's Impossible To Watch Without Wanting Yogurt). Psych has unfortunately been bumped from its usual slot to the Fall, so that the channel can launch two new shows. While we’ll miss Shawn and Gus a while longer, it’s okay because the whole Burn gang is back.
That’s right, the hottest parts of summer are back! Michael, Fiona, Sam, Maddie, Jesse, Barry, Nate, Sugar, Dead Larry… they’re all back and reportedly better than ever, now that Michael has been reinstated as a spy. Not to mention the Charger, Miami, plastic explosives, sunglasses, improvised listening devices, and an endless supply of yogurt. So, grab your remote and your yogurt, and escape the doldrums with Chuck Finley.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Stop and Stare

It is with great trepidation that I am publishing this. Today’s topic is one which has been heavily on my mind lately, but I am still somewhat unsure how it should be approached. However, I saw something on another blog about it and figured if that guy could talk about it, then I certainly could. I want to talk about beauty.

Recently, I was having dinner with a bunch of friends. We were all eating and chatting and generally having a good time when a woman walked into the room. In a moment that could have been straight out of a bad sitcom, every guy at the table stopped whatever he was doing and stared at her. While the men may not have realized what was going on, every woman at that table sure did.

For the record, this woman was gorgeous. When she walked in, the other women in the room wanted to hide under their chairs. We all know what men want because it is so painfully obvious. When someone sees something they like, they stop and stare at it. The dirty little secret that not many women would admit is that we like being stared at.

That night, I did not sleep at all. Instead, that moment kept replaying over and over in my head, in stark contrast to the greeting I had received from those same guys. Every insecure memory from high school came rushing back, along with all the times I’ve been described as having a great personality or sat at home alone on a Friday night. It took every ounce of resolution I had to get out of bed the next morning.

One of my favorite movies is Breakfast at Tiffany’s. A lot of people don’t understand why, but it makes perfect sense to me. I’m pretty sure that deep inside of every woman is a Holly Golightly. We would never admit it, but underneath all our confidence and accomplishment is a terrified 16-year-old who just wants someone to like her.

Today’s woman is bombarded by two very different messages in the media, typified in the Playmate of the Year and the Dove True Beauty campaign. These two images are entirely incompatible, yet they both persist. We all know who wins, though. At the end of the day, the Playmate wins. Why? Because the self-confidence boosting messages are coming from other women.

Feminism preaches that a woman does not need a man’s approval, that she is complete without him. Creation teaches something else entirely: that woman was created from man and for him. Try as they might, all the bra burnings in the world cannot change what is biologically engrained in every female. 16-year-olds and grown women alike will always crave masculine appreciation.

Another concept taught by Creation is that male or female, every human is designed for a higher purpose than mutual admiration. Our very existence is solely for the glory and pleasure of the Creator. This is the Truth to which I continue to cling. It is a fact which transcends the pain of loneliness.

Someone asked me the other day if I knew any good men. I said yes, but that the last one had just gotten married. Keep up the good work, guys! If you happen to be a man reading this, please realize that women don’t want much—we just need you to realize how what you say and do affects us. We’re just usually too scared to bring all this stuff up because we’re worried you might label us as “high maintenance” or “unreasonable.”

To my female readers (as I know most of you are), I hope you know that you’re not alone. I’d urge you to mediate on truth and not believe all the lies out there. We’re not all supermodels, but we were all fearfully and wonderfully made the way we are for a reason.

Whoever you are, thanks for reading all the way to the end. Please understand that I do not mean any of this critically; I want merely to address an issue. No problem was ever solved without first being discussed. Feel free to continue the discussion in the comments section. I'd love to hear what ya'll have to say about this delicate subject.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Burst the Bubble

Allow me to preface this by saying that I work at a Christian college and love it. It happens to be the same college from which I graduated. I also attended a Bible Institute before college and before that, I was homeschooled. You could say that I have been thoroughly Christianized. My entire education (and indeed, life) has been conducted within what is commonly referred to as The Bubble.

A few years ago, The Bubble burst for me in a big way when my parents got divorced. My dad had even been a pastor and suddenly our church wouldn’t even talk to us. However, even before this, I had started poking at the walls of our Christian culture. One of the biggest things I ever learned was the question everything: to examine things for myself, constantly asking why.

What I have discovered is tragic. Instead of being the Salt and Light of the world that Christ Himself told us to be, we have built gated communities. We have become so afraid of being “of the world” that we are no longer in it! How can we change a society in which we have no part? Yes, it’s more comfortable here—people don’t think we’re weird when we’re all Christians.

We even have our own Christianese language. One of the most important things I looked for when finding a new church was the language. I needed to find a place where they spoke plain English. A church that is truly dedicated to communicating with the outside world doesn’t use words like “dispensationalism,” “hermeneutics,” and “VBS"expecting everyone to know what they mean.

So many of my friends refuse to listen to anything other than Christian music. They don’t go to movies; they only wear in-your-face Christian t-shirts. Everyone thinks we’re freaks and they’re right: weird is in the eye of the beholder. So how are they supposed to understand us? More importantly, how are we supposed to relate to them?

Instead of having our own GodTube, wouldn’t it be better if we flooded YouTube with Christian videos? Why do we have knock-off Christian bookstores, instead of publishing books that are good enough to be carried by Borders? If there is a market for quality materials, secular businesses will provide them. It’s the simple business concept of supply and demand and it applies just as well to religion.

Please don’t misunderstand me: I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ! I am, however, often embarrassed by Christians. Yes, we are different, but that doesn’t mean that we should be unapproachable. We’re coming up on another election and let’s remember that while religion should affect politics, politics is not all about religion. You certainly won’t see me protesting or boycotting.

Maybe you aren’t in The Bubble. You might not have any idea what I’m talking about, in which case, awesome! But if you are a member of the isolationist American subculture referred to as conservative evangelicalism, get out before it’s too late. I dare you to go out for a drink with your unsaved coworkers. As a wise woman once said “my Jesus brought the party” and we should too.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Wait Without Hope

I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
—T. S. Eliot

As many of you may know, I am not the most patient of people. I have no patience with imperfection or procrastination in myself or others. I like to plan because then I feel like I am doing something, even while I am waiting for a particular event to actually occur. I appreciate consistency and usually try to get things done even ahead of time. If something needs to get done, why wait? Do it now!

One of the things for which I have the least patience is people telling me to be patient. This has been happening to me a lot lately because while my friends are getting married and having babies, I am still incredibly single. “Just wait, your turn is coming. God must have something better in store for you,” is the most common sentiment I hear, usually from happily married people.

While I do not doubt my advisors’ kind intentions, I have trouble grasping their implications. How can they possibly know what the future holds for me? How am I supposed to keep hoping for something which may never happen? Hope is defined as a “confident expectation.” Therefore, by definition, I cannot place any hope in an uncertain event.

There is no guarantee of happiness in this life. Life itself is not guaranteed. What is promised is that we will be able to handle it. As I continue to wait for love, I find myself having to redefine waiting. This is not something that I can rush. I have no control and no option other than patience. However, as I continue to hope, I continue to be disappointed.

Now, I find myself learning to wait without an object of hope. I’m sure you have also experienced this unique brand of faith. Whether you found yourself waiting for a job, a child, a car… whatever it may be, this incredibly human experience of doubt is unmistakable. I am becoming convinced that as we redefine our expectations, we redefine ourselves through a growing understanding of real life.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Short and Sweet

Yesterday, I got to participate in one of the best weddings I have ever attended. Admittedly, my participation consisted largely of applying double-sided sticky tape and falling down the stairs. Nonetheless, it was absolutely lovely. Not only did I get to see my old friends and the city of Baltimore, but I also saw something indescribably special.

There’s a lot of talk about the sanctity of marriage these days. Unfortunately, most of the weddings I have attended have been more about the ceremony and less about the covenant. This wedding certainly had its share of drama, but when Tim and Marie said “I do,” I had a front row view of a sacred moment. All of the planning and stress and details didn’t matter then.

Having watched my own parents’ marriages disintegrate (as well as so many others), I sometimes wonder if good marriages aren’t just mythical creatures. As divorce rages all around, seeing my friends exchange vows worries me. However, yesterday I caught a glimpse of two souls entering into a spiritual bond, surrounded by friends and family to support them.

As I looked around the church, I saw several shining examples of what marriage should be: Ben and Amanda, who have been married for two years and are expecting their first child; Dr. and Mrs. Cragoe, who have been married for twenty years and love their students like children… I listened to the words of the service and knew that Tim and Marie understood the gravity of their vows.

It was a very short ceremony, clocked at 23 minutes. We all felt a little like we were back in one of Dr. Cragoe’s theology classes, but that’s only because we may have actually learned something—I know I did. I probably won’t remember almost sinking into the harbor for a photo or decorating the getaway car with the aisle runner, but I will never forget witnessing that sweet moment of communion.