Monday, August 31, 2015

Why Do I Read Those Things?

Seems like I haven't had much to say for a while, but all of a sudden the last day or two I've felt like posting several times. And not bad/stressful stuff, either! Yay!! :)

So...my last post. Yes, I know it may have been a little volatile. But I'm leaving it, because it's where I'm at. And the initial purpose of this blog was to be a place to discuss my theological thoughts, because I had MANY. All the time. I'm changing a lot. Discovering truth is a large part of who I am, and the lifetime JOURNEY to discovering that truth is something I treasure, even though at times I find it difficult being in an "in-between," less-certain place. So, I noticed I lost a follower. That's okay (though it just goes to prove the point of my last post). It's hard to face difficult questions or very opposing views to what we believe - it causes a very uncomfortable condition called cognitive dissonance. I've been there. It IS very uncomfortable, and that's putting it mildly.


But today, I have some other thoughts to talk about.

I came across this post by Modern Mrs. Darcy blogger Anne Bogel discussing WHAT OUR FAVORITE BOOKS SAY ABOUT OUR OWN CHARACTER. It's an interesting read, and it got me thinking about my own favorite things to read, and what they say about me. Like Anne, it's difficult for me to choose a particular "favorite" book...but a few do come to mind.

I love the Harry Potter series and Lord of the Rings. I've read many other fantasy series, too, and if I write my own novel, it will likely fit in the same genre. The creativity jumps out to me about these books - they contain all types of mysterious objects, diverse characters, and fluid "rules" for various worlds and situations. They involve heroes and villains and great personal struggle. Life in the story is not ordinary, ever, for the reader...but yet it is, for the characters - especially after the crisis has been overcome. The foreign nature of the fantastical setting gives a busy mind a lot of detail to pay attention to as the action unfolds, and the struggle usually requires make-or-break decisions to be made by the character/s on moral matters and personal values. In the end, evil is defeated (or set at bay), good prevails (usually), and the character resumes life-as-usual knowing he/she has played an important part in the unfolding of all things.

Historical Fiction is another genre I have enjoyed as long as I can remember. When I was young I loved anything by Scott O'Dell, and anything about pioneers moving into uncharted lands to live or interact with its inhabitants. I still love historical fiction (like the one I read recently on Catherine the Great, and the Highlander series, which I'm still working on). There are a lot of the same elements here, as in any story - the character facing crisis and making life-changing decisions, etc. The obvious conclusion is that I love history! But also, perhaps I find comfort in the idea that these stories represent people who have gone before - real people - who have already walked the road, survived the journey, affected their world, and determined their destiny.

Perhaps I long for some kind of adventure.

Perhaps what I desire is direction and assurance that it is right and things will be okay.

...Or maybe I just like a good plot!

What to you like to read, and what do you think it might say about you?


Monday, August 24, 2015

You Know What Isn't Fair?

Through a friend's social media post this week I came into contact with this article on how atheists find meaning and purpose in life. This was actually always one of the questions I could never wrap my mind around when I thought Christian evangelism was the highest purpose/call one could pursue. And I didn't see how everyone else couldn't come to the same conclusion and seek that higher meaning which, in my opinion, was to love, serve, and recruit more lovers and servers for Jesus. (Side note: I highly recommend giving this article a read if you are a Christian.)

But you know what isn't fair (besides pretty much most things)...?

The hipster-culture, materialistic jump-up-and-down-in-the-smoke-and-lights, first-world Christians of today who think the rest of the world to be arrogant rejecters of Christ, and poor Christians to be lacking in faith and not living in the full potential of the "abundant life" available to them, and poor "unreached" peoples as desperately in need of hearing a prosperity gospel with the hope that they, too, can have all their material needs met in Christ if they just turn from sin and believe with their poor heathen hearts...what's not fair is that these Christians will continue to live just as they are, and if they are wrong and atheists are right, these (dare I say it?) oppressive Christians (one of whom I have indeed been) will never know it. They'll just continue to live in ignorance, and then die, and...well, that's it. There's nothing else.

But if they are right...then everyone else will suffer eternally for just trying to live life and be decent people.

It's not fair because it makes God seem pretty sadistic.

If God exists, or if Christian religion/theology has any merit at all, then God cannot be as/what most Christians claim [Him] to be.

Because it's just not fair.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

What I'm Into (July 2015 wrap-up)



It has been quite a while since I've posted! I wanted to stop in here and chat you up with something kind-of light, so I thought I'd join this link-up for the first time when two of the blogs in my feed reader featured the same title today! So...

WHAT I'M INTO: JULY 2015 EDITION

Music


All things 70s. I, as the last person on the planet, bought two new albums via iTunes yesterday: Elton John's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Fleetwood Mac's Rumours. A friend and I went and saw Elton at the end of March, and I read a biography of him after that, and this is far-and-wide purported to be his best album ever. To think, six months ago I barely had any clue who the rocker was. I knew some of his songs, but had no idea he was the artist behind them. Even the Lion King, people!! My favorite songs on this album are "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" (of course), and also "Sweet Painted Lady" and "Roy Rogers" (not necessarily in that order). And when I listened to Rumours my first thought was, "This is okay, but I'm not sure it's as great as everyone else seems to think...." But I do like several of its songs, and the whole theme of the album seems to fit my life well right now. I probably would not have "gotten it" if I had listened to it before this year.

It's been too long since I just indulged in listening to great music!!

Since the 70s seem to be my musical era at the moment, I looked up some other great albums from the decade. I did some listening to Pink Floyd (and was not impressed - someone PLEASE explain all the hype here, please!!), Led Zeppelin (a little better than Floyd, but still...), and Roxy Music (it just didn't really hit it for me). I of course love me some Dylan, and some sixties groups like the Beatles and the Beach Boys still rock my world, but I'm beginning to think the 70s as a whole aren't really my decade, and I've already discovered all the greats I'm going to from then! We'll see, I guess. I am, however, definitely a fan of the coherently themed album.

Oh, also, a Facebook friend posted this recommended playlist of current "repeat" songs of public radio hosts. I have cued it up on YouTube, but haven't listened yet. I'm all about the creative!


Reading

I was going to post this as "Books," but even though I've downloaded and ordered several still on their way to being delivered, I'm really reading more on the Internet this week than I am reading in book form. I discovered J. R. R. Tolkien's essay (originally given as a lecture) on Andrew Lang called "On Fairy Stories," and this week blogger Richard Beck has broken down the essay in a (so-far four-part) series called "The Theology of Faerie." I'm working on the essay and plan to read the blogs next. The title caught me, and the cross between fantasy literature and theology is RIGHT up my alley!


July 21st I finished the book Catherine: Inside the Heart and Mind of a Great Monarch and fell in love with this long-dead symbol of feminine leadership. She had a couple of obvious flaws, one of which was that she came to love her authority more than her youthful ideals of justice for peasants, and thereby missed an opportunity to capstone the legacy of her greatness. The book is well-written, though (even if I would fault some of the technical editing shortcomings), and keeps one's attention from beginning to end. It read differently than any other work of fiction I've ever come across - I guess that can be attributed to the author's style, and the style made me feel like I was reading more research than fiction. I recommend this read!

I found this (and several other interesting reads) through a daily email service from Bookbub.com. It allows you to choose your favorite genres, and in a daily email you receive a recommendation in each category you chose, at a very cheap price or free. I've ordered quite a few books since a friend recommended Bookbub to me a couple of months ago.

Small Space Living (and extra money)

Okay, I know this craze has been going on for a little while now and I'm late to jump onboard the party boat, but I'm not into it in such a way that I want to buy a little pop-up camper and park it in the forest over by Walden Pond. I just live in a small house and am looking for ways to optimize my space. I know I will move again at some point, anywhere from very soon to a couple of years from now. I'm tired of moving beind a hassle; I'm tired of clutter being an ongoing enemy that surrounds me and tears at my mental-health defenses...I'm just tired of pointless "stuff" and all the wasted money that goes into it.

So I'm trimming back. I've taken probably close to a hundred books to a local bookstore this week for cash. They give pretty decent trade prices, or you can cash out for half the amount they offer in in-store trade credit. (I always cash out.) And I'm finding extra stuff around the house to put on Craigslist. Double benefits: I'm clearing out the clutter and making a little extra pocket change to boot. I've been reading all kinds of articles on quick ways to make a few extra bucks. I opened an online checking account that offered two hundred dollars for doing so...but I set up my direct deposit a week after the deadline so that fell through. I also ordered an online prepaid debit card for the promise of an extra $40 in return. This was through Netspend. I did not get the $40, even though I called and verified that it would be put into my account within a couple of business days of uploading my first amount of money onto the card. (So I don't recommend doing that. The checking account, though, was through Nationwide Bank, and it seems to have been a legitimate offer of $200; I was just late on my end in meeting their very reasonable requirements.) The lesson learned in all of this: for me it is easier to earn "easy money" in the traditional ways. Just sell stuff I'm not using! It benefits me in more ways than one.

But don't be fooled; I still have not triumphed over my clutter.

But I'm working on it!!

Oh, and I signed up to be a mystery shopper! I have my first assignment coming up later today. It should be fun. It's definitely not a get-rich-quick scheme, but it'll be gas money! And without too much effort.


Community

A new guy started at my overnight job a few days ago. He was assigned to work with me that night, and we immediately clicked and had an hours-long philosophical conversation. It was so refreshing! Working third shift, you don't always meet a lot of new people or join a lot of extra-curriculars in which to chat it up with friends. It was pretty affirming in the direction my personal beliefs have taken over the last couple of years. I've learned I really value the Eastern "group" mentality, and that it sheds light on some of my grittier cosmic questions.

And also in the face of that liberal-ish statement, on the other hand, I'm thinking of checking out a local Catholic church's Catholicism 101 classes starting this month. (I think it's akin to RCIA, but I'm not sure. It might be a less commitment-oriented forum.) If I remain part of the official Christian community, the intellectual openness and expanse of the Catholic church draws me. As with so many other things in my life right now...we'll see!


Food

I discovered tomato sandwiches this month. Toasted bread, mayo, tomato, and just a smidgeon of heaven.... Goin' back to my Appalachian roots here!! ;)

And I finally found a really good pizza place here in town, after having lived here and survived on Domino's and Pizza Hut for over 3 years. It's brought a measure of peace to my life that has been missing....


Netflix

Damages. Pretty sure that's 'nuff said.


What are you into?