October 31, 2007

On Football Scores

You have to wonder if at some point, the losing team just wanted to quit. Go back to their locker room, lay down and take a nap. And at some point, shouldn't the winning team decide to stop humiliating them and take a knee?

Kansas team scores 72 in first quarter; wins 86-0

On Showing Anger

The vast majority of Christians would say that anger is an emotion to be avoided and when it makes its way out of the recesses of your mind, it should be squelched or confessed. There are dozens of verses that contain the word 'anger' (go to www.biblegateway.com and type in 'anger.' Not only will you see how many verses there are, but you'll also see why some people avoid the Old Testament. God was not very happy in a lot of those books...but after you see that, go look at Psalm 145:8).

Most of the verses contain warnings about anger and its dangers (Proverbs 15:1, 22:24, 29:8, 30:33, Ecclesiastes 7:9 and more). So we've established through these verses and more verses like them that unchecked and unrighteous anger is wrong and should be avoided. But what if this anger is replaced by something just as damaging and just as frustrating to those who are its object?

I'm talking about passive aggressive behavior. The term 'passive aggressive' was first used during World War II by the military. In the beginning it was seen as a mental disorder that afflicted soldiers who wouldn't follow orders or avoided their duties. Most of the time when I hear people using it, (and in the way I'm using it here) it means that someone is not direct about their emotions (most commonly anger) and uses roundabout ways to express it. They bottle it up inside and use other ways to show their ire.

When did this become the norm for Christians? For people in general? When was honest confrontation replaced by avoidance? We are called to honesty and yet we are rarely honest about what is bothering us or what has made us upset. So instead, we bottle it up for months and make mental lists of all the ways we've been insulted or victimized or annoyed and we lie in wait. We wait for the perfect moment to unleash that pent-up frustration. Most often, this anger comes out in a burst, but sometimes it's in a manipulative, non-confrontational manner. Because Christians also hate confrontation. It's as though we've been brainwashed to believe that any sort of confrontation is wrong and we should never have these feelings so we should never let anyone know we have them. And yet we do have these emotions and instead of truly forgetting or forgiving, we just use them later.

My thoughts feel jumbled and I'm having a hard time explaining what I mean. The bottom line is that we all become angry and bottling it up without taking care of it or being indirect about it is just as wrong and just as harmful as letting it out. There is also such a thing as righteous anger. We are allowed to be angry when the anger isn't about pride (to put it very simply). Expressing anger by making snide remarks or sending passive aggressive emails or talking about your anger to someone else (but not to the person who made you angry) is wrong and is a cop-out. It's the easy way out for people who don't have the guts or the common decency or the integrity to be honest with someone. It can destroy a person and it can destroy a relationship.

It's high time we got over our pride and our self-righteous indignation and fessed up to our emotions.

October 24, 2007

On Global Warming

As the wildfires in California rage and the drought in the Southeast remains, the media is taking this opportunity to roll out their global warming specials and their experts and anything else related to the environment. I have no idea whether global warming is real or if the earth is just going through another cycle of heating up before it cools back down. I've heard both sides of the story (although not the whole story, I'm sure) and they both make sense. Although there has been movement by some conservatives, the majority still believe global warming is a myth. Why should we inconvenience ourselves and stop driving SUVs? Those big businesses who make so much pollution are in my pocket, so why should I stop them? This is my question: Even if global warming is a myth, something propagated by liberals to distract you while they hand out free condoms in high schools and raise your taxes, why are you so adamantly against helping or cleaning the environment? What is so bad about being responsible about the environment and looking for new, cleaner fuel? Who, exactly, will lose by taking care of the earth?

Many Christians (a group I count myself a part of) have gotten on the global warming bandwagon, but even more still say it's a myth. So for those who rail against Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio and CNN and all the other democrats and liberals and left-wing treehuggers, I must again ask: why? As God's greatest creation, as the 'rulers' of this earth, aren't we supposed to take care of it? God created the earth and told Adam to name the animals. God made Adam the caretaker of Eden and, by extension, the whole earth. Some people may say this means we can do whatever we want--humans come first, then the animals and trees.

But haven't we already proven that not taking care of the flora and fauna is not good for anyone? Mercury levels are too high in the ocean, species of animals are becoming endangered or extinct, the square footage of the earth taken up by shopping malls will soon be more than the square footage taken up by trees (okay--that's an exaggeration, but you get my point). And yet we carry on, letting man-made monstrosities take the place of God's own creation. We'd rather see manufacturing plants and malls and houses that are too big for one family take the place of trees and animals and clean air. And don't even get me started on SUVs (How many people actually use them as sport utility vehicles?).

Whether or not global warming is a real threat is, to me, irrelevant. You don't clean your house just when mold spores become a threat to the health of your family--you clean your house so it never has the chance of becoming a threat. So before global warming (or any sort of environmental disaster) becomes a threat (or more of a threat), why don't we take care of the earth?

October 18, 2007

On the Craziness of the World

Oh my.

A middle school in Portland, Maine is now giving students birth control pills. No, not a high school. A middle school. Sixth-eighth graders.

Let's pause a moment to let that sink in.

Really, people? And their reasoning is that some students may not feel comfortable going to their parents to talk about it? Do you think maybe they feel uncomfortable about it because they're 11? And instead of talking about sex, they should be talking about Zach Efron and how dreamy he was in High School Musical? Listen, I know children mature faster now and most middle schoolers probably know more about sex than I do, but I don't think that's even the issue.

The issue to me seems to be that schools and the government are once again letting parents off the hook. I don't care if it's uncomfortable for parents to talk to their kids about the birds and the bees. I don't care if it makes them blush and if their kids roll their eyes--it's their job. The moment you decided to have children or the moment the pregnancy test said positive and you decided to rear a child, you did more than say yes to having someone else live in your house. The moment you had children, you decided to take on the responsibilities of parenting. That means taking care of their primary needs (food, clothing, shelter) as well as teaching them about the world and about people and about themselves. If you are too scared or embarrassed to do this, don't have children. Parenting does not give you license to pick and choose which issues you want to deal with--if you want to raise a child, then you deal with all the issues, even sex and birth control.

I also have issues with the people who voted against it because it's against their religion and against God. First of all, the real issue is more than sex and birth control, as stated in my rant above. Second, it doesn't matter if it's against religion because the government is separate from religion or any belief system. It's not the job of the government to uphold religious beliefs. In fact, it's their job to do the very opposite. It's their job to stay out of religion. Stop trying to find your savior on Capitol Hill (or your town hall, or state legislature or any other form of man-made government). Yes, giving 11-year-olds is not exactly in line with most religions or with Christianity, but since when are we supposed to expect non-Christians to act and believe the same things as Christians?

Christians (myself included) believe that all people are fallen and imperfect and can only be made whole by Christ. Let me repeat that: Only be made whole by Christ. Not by the government and its laws. So please stop trying to use earthly and man-made laws to make people act like Christians. It doesn't work.

October 17, 2007

On Generation Y

An article in Newsweek delves back into the issue of 'twixters,' something that was brought up around my senior year in college. They never actually use the word twixter, but the concept is the same: twentysomethings are taking forever to 'settle down' and are using their twenties as a time to find their life passions (often living with their parents and/or flitting from job to job).

It's obvious to just about everyone that my generation is unlike previous generations in many ways. We don't get married during or right after college. We don't find a job and stick with it for the next 50 years. If we don't like our boss, rather than go home and sit in front of the TV and zone everything out in an attempt to forget about our craptastic job, we quit. Why suffer with an ingratiating boss when we're still young and can get out of it?

But then there's responsibility. And narcissism and selfishness. Why should our parents foot the bill when we are able to take care of ourselves? At what point do we say 'enough is enough' and stop relying on mom and dad to finance the search for our 'life calling.' At what point do our parents say 'enough is enough' and stop footing the bill? (According to the article, the stopping point for many parents is age 30).

Another feature of a twixter or the Generation Y is that we often care less about money and more about having a fulfilling life. In other words, we'll work for less pay if we love what we're doing. I wonder if that's true or just one of those things people say when they're answering a poll, but don't really believe. I have no proof to back up my skepticism other than the obvious love for high-priced gadgets, cars and hipster clothing I see so many twentysomethings wear. Maybe their parents are also footing that bill.

Experts (and the article's author) say much of the blame rests on the shoulders of the parents. Apparently, parents have instilled in their children the belief that they can do anything they want, no matter the cost or skill involved. This paired with the fact that we've never had to work for anything or earn anything (or at least not to the extent of prior generations) is a deadly mix (I wonder how much of an impact a lack of having to do chores when growing up has an effect--it seems like kids no longer have to do chores). So these young and naive kids go out into the world expecting to get what they want without working for it. Eventually they'll stumble upon the perfect job that lets them do something they love during work, pays them enough money, and still allows them to have a fulfilling life outside of work.

This is all totally possible, I believe. You can have that perfect job, a family, passions outside of work and a fulfilling life. But it may not happen by the time you're 25. You may have to work for it and even put in more than 40 hours a week. You may have to have a job that just pays the bills and then work on fulfilling your dreams during your own time. It's time for my generation to get over its narcissism and stop letting their parents foot the bill.

But I'm reminded that even if I had the perfect job (owned a bookstore and wrote children's novels), in the perfect town (a smallish mountain town), with the perfect house (an old cottage), and even had a dog to go with it all--I still wouldn't be fulfilled. Things and places and even people will never fulfill me. I will never be satisfied with what the world has to offer because the world is fallible and imperfect just like me. I still have a void that can only be filled by Him--by my Lord and Savior. It may seem silly or maybe naive, but I look at the world around me and see different. I look at Britney Spears, Paris Hilton or even less ridiculous celebrities and see that they're looking for the world to fill their void. I look at people I come in contact with all the time--not celebrities--and see them searching for meaning in their life. Yet, nothing seems to be working. How can we expect an imperfect world to fulfill us? It will always let us down. We'll always let others down. Yet Christ has never let me down. Even when I don't understand right away, He's never broken His word or promises.

Now that's something to write home about. You know...once I move out of my parent's basement and find the perfect job.

October 16, 2007

On Links and Stories

I'm addicted to blogs (personal blogs and just random or 'artsy' blogs) and reading the news. So here are a few things you and everyone you know should read or at least peruse:

What people put on the front of their fridge is a good indication of what they find important or what type of personality they have. On this website, people from all over the world show you what's inside their fridge. You might think it's weird, but it's also pretty flippin' interesting.

American Lawbreaking
This is an article on laws in the U.S. that are on the books but never enforced. It's actually a series of articles, so it's pretty long. Slate (the online magazine where the article is located) has a lot of really great and thought-provoking articles. This article gives you a lot to think about, including the use of prescription drugs. Okay, I admit it. I'm a nerd.

This website/blog is for all the creators/imaginators/artists out there. I love it, I love it, I love it. The sight's creator/author finds amazing artists and designers and tells you where to get their goods. It's just been redesigned with some new features. Go there and have ridiculous amounts of fun drooling at the beautiful and well-designed wares.

Burnside Writers Collective
Here is another online magazine started by Donald Miller (of Blue Like Jazz fame) and his friends. Each Monday they have new articles on everything from sports to social justice. The articles are usually well-written and thought-provoking and leave you wishing they published more than just on Mondays. They have an editors blog that is updated on a daily-ish basis as well.

Still Searching
This is Brett McCracken's blog. Who is Brett McCracken, you ask? He's a grad student in L.A. who writes movie reviews for several publications, including Relevant Magazine. His blog showcases his writing prowess and very often has thought-provoking material. I'm a fan. I'd also like to know what he thought of the movie The Squid and the Whale.

Paste Magazine
I love music and I love magazines. So a great magazine dedicated to music? Perfect. This magazine furthers its awesome quotient by not being self-important and acting like they have a stick up their butt, unlike the completely overrated Rolling Stone. There! I said it! Rolling Stone (and Entertainment Weekly and just about every other mainstream media publication) is overrated and so full of themselves, that they've become blinded to quality entertainment/music/film. Paste, however, is breathing fresh, pure, mountain-like air into the industry of music news and reviews. Thank goodness.

I don't think I even completely understand the point or layout or whatever of this site, which is part of the appeal. But entries like this make me come back wanting more.

One of these days I'll get back to talking about my opinions on current events/world affairs/everything else or maybe I'll even have an interesting story to tell.

October 8, 2007

On Football

I love the changing seasons, especially the change from winter to spring and from summer to fall. New smells fill the air, the sky is vivid blue and nostalgia becomes the order of the day.

Fall seems to bring about the most feelings of nostalgia for me. Although the leaves and flowers are dying, my life seems to have a feeling of renewal. Perhaps it's because for so much of my life, the beginning of fall signaled the beginning of a new school year. A chance to go back to school and see how people have changed and let them see how I've changed. A new opportunity to define myself.

Fall is also the beginning of football season. Ahhh, football, how I love thee. I could wax poetic about football all day. Although I hail from North Carolina, I'm a Green Bay Packers fan. I remember the first Super Bowl I ever watched for the game rather than the commercials. The Packers were playing and I remember watching the fans and thinking that they just seemed like fun. They had cheese on their head! They seemed like they were a friendly bunch and were enjoying the game in a childish and pure fashion. It's as though they couldn't believe they had the fortune to be able to watch grown men run up and around a field chasing after a ball. So when I was 16 and decided to learn about football, it only made sense to pull for the Packers. I also like the fact that the team is owned by the people of Green Bay, and not one person alone. It truly is a family affair for Green Bay and Wisconsin. The waiting list for season tickets is more than 30 years long. Tickets are left to family members in wills and a child's name is added to the waiting list when they're born. You want to see dedication? That's dedication.

I've tried to get into basketball and baseball, but they just don't thrill me like football. I've only seen a couple of high school football games in person, but I can watch a game on TV for hours. Yet, baseball and basketball are only fun at the game. I appreciate them, especially the history of baseball and the mystique of America's pastime, but they're just too mundane--the same thing over and over.

But football. No game is ever the same. What play are they going to use? Who will the QB throw to? Everyone gets their chance at glory and every player is absolutely essential. You aren't focusing on just one player trying to hit the ball, or watching players run up and down the court. No, a basketball court cannot contain football. They need 100 yards of pure, green grass (or turf). They need pads and helmets because they aren't satisfied just to stand in front of the other team. No, they need to tackle. They need to pummel. They need to run and block and throw their entire body in the way of the ball. Glorious, glorious football.

The Packers are 4 and 1. The Patriots, Cowboys and Colts are 5 and 0. Am I the only one who's tired of seeing the Patriots win? But it's all good. Because in football, you never know how the game will end (Michigan and Appalachian State--case in point). I'm sure I could make some profound illustration about life and football. But for now, I'll just leave it where it is. Sometimes things are just meant to be enjoyed. And football is one of those things.

October 6, 2007

I Heart Jim (and Jack and House and Kenneth...)

Let's make this post a happy one since the last post was a little--how shall I say it--grumpy?

I'm a TV junky. I try to justify myself by saying I only watch TV shows I really enjoy, but I like a lot of TV shows, so I think I'd be considered a TV junky. I'm okay with it for the most part, but mainly because I have DVR (Oh sweet digital video recorder--how did I live without you all those years?), so if a show is coming on while something else is happening (i.e. something involving real, live people), I can just hit a few buttons and voila--I am no longer bound to the television. Oh sweet freedom.

But I just love stories. I love learning about other people's lives (also why I love blogs), so I love reading about them in books or watching them on TV or in movies. I love making up my own stories about people I see on the street or in stores. I just love stories!

This TV season seems to have a fair amount of good new shows, but then an even larger amount of bad shows. Case in point: Cavemen. Here's my question about this show: Other than how they look, how are these cavemen different from us? They live in the city, they drink skim lattes or whatever they're called and they hold real jobs. The speak English, they wear trendy clothes--so how are they supposed to be different? What is the point of this show?

But then there's the return of favorites as well (LOST is only five-ish months away! Oh how I miss you, Jack.). So here's the breakdown of shows with which I fill my evenings (or whenever I get around to watching them):

-The Office: Huh-larious. How many of us can totally relate and think of people who are exactly like these characters?
-30 Rock: Tina Fey is my role model for life.
-LOST: Coming back in February! So much to wait for!
-Ugly Betty: This show is also hilarious and bright and cheery and full of harmless drama. So good.
-House, M.D.: Oh that crazy grumpy, drug addict. He's so mean but brilliant.

Some new shows I'm going to try:
-Aliens in America: the first episode was cute
-Pushing Daisies: I haven't watched the first episode yet (I might do it while I eat my Apple Jacks (yay for sugary kid's cereal)). But the show looks amazing--the color! the concept! Kristen Chenowith!

You might (maybe? a little?) be thinking, 'Oh, that's not too bad...you don't even have something for every night.' Which is true. But did I mention that if I'm considered a TV junky, then the only way to describe how I feel about movies is to call me a Certifiable, Unrelenting Movie Addict? Thank goodness for Netflix.

October 3, 2007

Crappy days and how not to be a crappy writer

I am finding that there are definite degrees of crappy days. Some crappy days can be cured by a piece of dark chocolate. Some need more fixing and require a long, hard laugh with a good friend. Others require a good drink such as an ice cold Diet Dr. Pepper--add alcohol when necessary.

Today was the type of crappy day in which I really wished I had a gargantuan pumpkin to throw off a tall building. I'd throw it off and watch it splatter on the pavement and take great delight in its destruction. Should I be worried that this is one of the first things that came to mind when I wanted to work off my anger?

However, almost all crappy days can be helped with good music. So here is a list of songs that help me endure a crappy, craptastic day:

1. Oh Happy Day (from Sister Act 2)
Seriously, how can you not be happy as you sing along and cheer for them as they go from a bad choir to an amazing gospel sensation (!!).
2. Young Folks (Peter, Bjorn and John)
Ummm...there's whistling. 'Nuff said.
3. The West Wing theme song
I can't listen to this song without feeling like I can change the world, while walking fast through strategically lighted hallways and being witty at the same time.
4. Hallelujah (the Jeff Buckley version and ONLY the Jeff Buckley version)
This isn't really a happy song, but it's an amazing song. So amazing, in fact, that you can't help but be happy that such a song exists.
5. The Luckiest (Ben Folds)
When such sappy love exists, you have to be a little happy, at least.
6. Fidelity (Regina Spektor)
If I had a voice like Regina, I'd never stop singing.
7. Anything by Nickel Creek or Alison Krauss
Bluegrass has the ability to make me happy, no matter the subject of the song. The banjo! The fiddle! The mandolin! The guitar picking! All happy things. Add the O Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack to that list as well.

There are more songs that make me happy, but that's all for now. Let's move on to the list of things that annoy me (the editor part of me) and will instantly make you a better writer if you never, ever do them again.

1. Just Because You Capitalize It Doesn't Mean It's A Proper Noun. Seriously, stop with the excessive capitalizing.
2. Beginning a story, formal paper, announcement or just about anything else with a question is not creative or unique--it's lazy. Lazy, lazy, lazy. And stupid to boot.
3. When differentiating between a.m. and p.m., there is a reason there are periods in between the letters. They are acronyms and each letter stands for a different word. Take one extra second and type the flipping periods.
4. When beginning a new sentence, there only needs to be one space between the period and the new word. Your middle school typing teacher was wrong. Only one space, forever and ever amen.

That's all for now. Enough complaining. I'll leave you with a happy image: I saw a beagle puppy sticking its head out the car window today. Anyone who would like to give me a corgi puppy is free to do so.