Thursday, September 15, 2011

Have Mercy on Me, Lord, A Sinner

I've been thinking a lot about testimonies lately, the stories we tell to share how we were saved, but more importantly, what we were saved from. I have some conflict in my heart about the nature of testimonies. Certainly what we often think about while hearing someone's story of salvation is related to the depth of the sin and depravity, and the amazing knowledge that somehow that person was yet saved after all, from the depths of their sin. Certainly the Bible tells us that Christ died for all, but in our humanness sometimes we tend to imagine that certain sins are past forgiving.

But the aspect of the Christian testimony that has bothered me lately has been the idea of the Christian testimony often doing a little more glorification of the sin than the savior. I think of a program I went to see once at a very flamboyant church where the message was all of the glory of the world, and the Christian was the dark, quiet, unassuming...I didn't understand why the sin had been made so appealing and by contrast, the spiritual was so dull and boring. It didn't seem like an appropriate message for evangelism. I disagree with the idea of selling Christianity for its greatness, but it cannot be contrasted with such brilliance. The true contrast cannot be shown between the two worldly existences at all, but between the two post-worldly existences. How else could it be done properly?

Perhaps my complaints in this area are overly sensitive, but I can't help but think of these things in some cases. Sometimes I simply think that the Christian testimony spends a lot more time talking about all the sin that came before, when in God's eyes, sin is sin, regardless of its extent. He died to save sinners. End of story. Our testimonies should be to God's glory, not to ours. We shouldn't magnify our sin as if our salvation was better than another's because of what we've been saved from. After all, we've all been saved exactly the same. We've all prayed, "Have mercy on me, Lord, a sinner," and to Him, we are all the same.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

An Indie Girl

I consider myself to be an Indie girl.

What is Indie? Many would say it's a do-it-yourself culture, stemmed from the idea of independently made (Indie music, Indie film, etc...) and if I really think about it, that's me: independently made.

Okay, before a bunch of people get all hot under the collar, let me clarify. Certainly I realize that there have been hands in my upbringing and education. But what about the parts of myself that I've made myself? Those are the areas I'm concerned with now.

First, I am a writer. This is something that no amount of coaxing or prodding ever put into my being. I am a writer and have been one, in spirit and in action, since I first placed a pen to paper. One of my earliest memories is of this action. I tried to write with crayons, but their large, blundering lines were agonizing; I wanted something smooth, something that could curl and flow and resemble the beauty that I wanted to portray. I was three years old. I couldn't even read yet. By the time I was four I was reading well, and by the time I was in kindergarten I was reading the second grade reading book. I wasn't a child prodigy though, because if I was, it came to nothing. I was, however, self-made. I wanted something and I got it, without letting anything--not the restrictions of being "too young," or the stereotype that kids love crayons and directionless exploration--stand in my way. I've always been like that.

Second, I love creative crafting. Just this weekend I was talking with my future mother-in-law about the kinds of crafting projects that I enjoy, and I realized for the first time why I don't like crocheting and knitting projects: they are just the same things over and over and over again! (The rest of this philosophical examination was unexplored in the mother-in-law conversation; I've saved this part for my private and blog-related musings.) I enjoy painting, embroidery, and sewing. I am a true nineteenth-century lady. Except I lack talent in music. But anyway, I find it hard to believe that after all of my dreams of writing--and to be honest, the furthest my actual dreams went beyond writing were into photography and painting, both of which exhibit only average talents on my part--I am suddenly the go-to person for custom wedding veils. I wish I were the go-to person for other creative things besides that! I have big dreams now of making all kinds of neat things, and I have to say a DIY wedding is a great outlet for some of this creativity. I also look forward to decorating my own home, especially my office-library, and having the freedom to be creative whenever I want. I look forward to trying new things and getting my creativity on as a new housewife.

Third, I have always thought my fashion sense was a little subdued. I prefer a single bold accessory--eyeliner, lipstick, a sexy shoe, or curly hair--but seldom more than one of these. For a long time I felt like I didn't fit into any fashion category because I wasn't particularly interested in being less modest or placed deeper into debt or being dressed up all fancy all the time. Then emerged the Indie style. Unless you have it, you can't understand it. I like the self-made style, the craftiness, they creativity that goes into style. I don't like wearing things that everyone else wears, or looking like everyone else, or being like anyone else at all. I enjoy being "self-made" and continuously self-constructing. I'm never ready to be done making my own creative identity!

Fourth, I appreciate other self-made individuals, those who are self-taught and creative. I appreciate the music and film made by people who are without the influence of industry professionals. I appreciate homemade goods, like the clothing my grandmother used to sew, and the accessories my mother used to make. I love the Etsy community, the creative world of handmade. I respect the photographers who trained and taught themselves how to be brilliant, my sister Michelle among them. This is what I am here for...these creative individuals who inspire me to continue being what I am!

An Indie girl.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Feminist criticism of Charlotte Bronte

In brief, I am offended by the suggestion that Bronte's characters are unfeminine in identity because they are closed off, or literally that their personalities are less brilliant, less charming, less advanced in social standing and therefore they are the trodden down. To the contrary, it is their very controlled and withdrawn natures that make them all the more womanly to me, all the more relatable. With Lucy Snowe, I cannot respect "the overly emotional and demonstrative woman who tells all without holding back." To be less open is, I believe and contrary to feminist thought, to be more free.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Unemployment Or ...

I have a job option. Already. It's only the third of June. I have written over fifty pages of my novel and it surely needs a good deal more work, but this has been done in one week of steady work. I have a job that pays me only little but that consumes only twenty hours of my week, before 9 a.m. each day. I spend the next eight or ten hours writing. At this rate, things are going well, but what if I take that job? Shall I risk losing this momentary rush for only a small pay raise? Such a struggle. If I could write for my career--write what I want to write, not what everyone else wants me to write--I would be living my dream! So what shall it be?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Last Week Before...

This is the last week of school.

Summer begins in two days.

Are you understanding what I am saying right now? I am saying that the semester is over!

Today and tomorrow I have a few straggling class meetings, Thursday I have to grade and officially submit the rest of my grades, and then Friday--beautiful Friday--summer vacation officially begins!

Friday is named Day 1 of the next 100 Days adventure which I will be happily pursuing this lovely summer. I have so many plans, and in some cases, the lack of plans is as appealing as the plans themselves! At any rate, here are my summer plans:

-- Write EVERY DAY and produce a complete screenplay before the summer is over (at least)
-- Go on adventures daily
-- Remodel Treasured Details
-- Go to Tennessee
-- Go to Kansas
-- Go to Montana
-- Go to California
-- Go to some concerts for some bands I love! (I have my eye on Bon Iver and Josh Groban in July--separately, by the way)
-- Spend quality time with friends and family
-- Be stress free!
-- Find a job

Old People: My Future

While being a student taught me what I needed to know about personal responsibility, learning, using common sense, and making contacts, being a teacher has taught me something quite different. The lessons learned have been a direct result of these different perspectives on education and academia, I feel, and although some of the lessons have been painfully deceiving and then in turn painfully revealing, they've been useful.

Four years in academia--five, if you count the year I spent as a supplemental instructor--has shown me a lot about the inner workings of that mysterious class of people I once regarded as celebrities: professors. I love my professors, still love them! Don't mistake what I am saying for an attempt to slander them backhandedly. In some ways, I still think of my professors as something of celebrity status because of the way they carefully and deliberately revealed to us the deepest secrets of the writers and texts that we loved. Because they were a part of the grand scheme that included our beloved literature, they were classed with that literature as infamous. Maybe that was where we went wrong then, I don't know. At any rate, it didn't take me long in the academic circle to realize that I had misunderstood most of what I was seeing from my undergraduate desk, and later, I realized, even more of what had been misrepresented by myself over my own undergraduates' desks.

The longer I spend my time mingling with members of university faculty--full professors or otherwise--the more I am surprised by what I learn. Granted, I am much less surprised now than I once was, when I first made my transition from one to the other side of the one-way mirror of academia.

Over the past five years, I have heard more professors than I want to admit say how much they wish they had done something else with their lives. In part, I dare not criticize them. After all, teaching never was my particular goal in life either. I've heard professors say grimly that we were all there because we loved to read, or that they wished they would have followed this dream or that dream, become independent novelists, whatever. It makes me sad to think of someone living this kind of drudgery (believe me, five years is enough to show me the career for what it is!) and all that time wishing they had done something else. It makes me wonder, why didn't they do something else then...really?

I think a lot of people fail to follow their dreams for one reason or another, but the point is that it is up to each person individually to decide if they can come to terms with giving up their dreams. There has to be a point in life when one looks at the dreams, faded and dust-covered, lying out on the table and admits that it's too late for some of them. As I grow older, I can imagine the sense of tiredness that enables the acceptance, but the younger part of me, the part that fights really hard against difficulties, tells me not to accept acceptance, not without raging epic war.

There are two dreams I don't want to part with, and these dreams used to not play very nicely together, but they're learning to get along. The first places me as a successful screenwriter learning to direct and produce my own films. The second is much more commonplace and yet as appealing. It places me into a small country house, as a wife and a mother (of one, perhaps two), doing mission work, living a happy and simple life. And oddly enough, that dream still gives me a room of my own where I write on the side. Apparently the dreams I have lead unquestionably toward a path of writing, and both lead me likewise to a path away from academia. I believe that my real dream is to support myself on my writing and my own creative work. I see too many people slaving away, unhappily, for a paycheck that is really little more than what they could earn working much more happily on their own.

So, that's what I want. Observation has spoken to me. The examples I've seen have helped me to see my future self, far down this same path, and I don't like her. She really can't play nicely with the other two dreams.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Photography Day

With the knowledge that school is only days away from completely over and summer vacation is beginning very soon, there is such a load lifted off of me. I have big plans for the next 100 days that will be my summer vacation, and yet right now, with the end only at hand, I can't seem to do much that is productive. All I want to do is relax and enjoy a little bit of free time for a change.

These are some of the things that have characterized my day so far.