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Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

 

JT, I love you. Forever and EVER. Nothing makes my inability to go out for a run more upsetting than finding a gem like this. I could run to this sound on repeat for a long time. The version on my phone is eight minutes long, so I could listen to it on repeat like three times and feel like I got in a good workout. Right now I don’t think I could run for three minutes, which is sad. I thought I was doing better, I was really convinced of it. I went to one yoga class, and I really was okay, and my arms and shoulders and back were just as sore as my foot, and I was encouraged. Then a week later I went to a second yoga class, and during that class I felt AWESOME. I felt like I could do this yoga class every day and feel great. But that was Tuesday, and since then my foot has been a lot more painful than it was before. But I also haven’t been quite as careful with it, and I haven’t been taking the anti-inflammatory medication like I was before. I think I’m going to wear the boot for a couple of days and see if that helps at all, and take the medicine again.

Briscoe just got out of bed, I got up at 8, but she felt the need to sleep until after 10. I think she has already fallen asleep again on the floor.

I went to the Good Friday service last night, because Easter really snuck up on me and I felt like it would help me get into the Easter spirit. The service was REALLY long, but other than that, it was great. There was one passage that I really liked:

Hebrews 10:22-25

“Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you the Day approaching.”

Obviously this is a pretty sincere affirmation of God’s promise for his people, but I think that even if you don’t believe in God or Jesus, the idea that we should “provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet…but encouraging one another” is an inspirational aspiration. My own personal history with Church could be compared to an interstate slowly changing into a gravel road, but I’ve been a peace with that for a long time. We all take our own paths, but I believe that as long as you are searching for enlightenment and approaching the world with love and gratitude, the day to day theological problems will sort themselves out. And maybe I don’t go to church all the time, and maybe you never do, but the comfort of the ritual is there.

In other news, I just finished the book Gone Girl, and I thought the ending was really stupid. I had been warned that the book was questionable, and I went into it knowing it was questionable, but whatever. I am proud of myself for checking the book out from the library. I live directly behind the library, and I always say I’m going to check out books, and then I never ever do. And this time I did. And I was justified, because now that I’m done with the book I want to throw it across the room, but tossing it into the return box will have to suffice. My horoscope swore to me that this most recent full moon was going to be the most difficult full moon of 2013 for me, and that I was going to get some bad news that would leave me tense and possibly very angry between March 27th and March 30th. Since I had Miami wining the NCAA tournament and they lost to some stupid school that starts with an M by more than ten points, thereby ruining my previously beautifully unbroken bracket, I’ve decided that this was my bad news. But I’m also going to attempt a spray tan today, so if this goes extremely poorly, that could also be my bad news. It is amazing how much I care about my bracket, considering that I have yet to watch an entire (or even a large majority) basketball game this season.

I have so many things I need to do today, starting with taking my dog outside. I’ve already brushed my teeth and consumed a great deal of coffee. Oh! And I got dressed. Now I just need to put on some sunscreen (no one should ever leave the house without sunscreen, on any day, regardless of where or what you are doing. Pouring down rain is a maybe excuse, but it might clear up, you never know) and I will be ready to brave the world! After I take a zyrtec. I really want a shark mop. I think today is the day to investigate. Life is full of excitement and possibilities.

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Yesterday, I went to yoga for the first time since before Christmas.  In the past year, I’ve been fairly dedicated to my yoga practice, mostly because if I only go once a week, it is difficult to walk and breathe the next day I’m so sore.  I’ve also made some fantastic friends through yoga, and I hate missing them.  When I’m consistent in my practice, I sleep better, I work better, I feel better, I eat better, and I am significantly more in control of my anxiety.  Plus, I feel stronger and more aware of my body.  There is very little excuse for me to not be dedicated, especially since there are no real negatives.

In the summer, I was running and doing yoga, but in the fall when my tennis season started back, running became more difficult.  The high impact of running and the high impact of tennis do not live harmoniously in my joints.  Too much working out causes me to have debilitating muscle cramps. I’ve tried everything, believe me, and the only sure fire way to stop the cramps is to not work out every day of the week and cut back on my high impact activities.  I’m better off with one or the other.  I’m sure I will start running again in February, if only so I can enjoy the bridge run.  I’m happy to go out and run a 5k when I haven’t been running on a regular basis, but running a 10k without prior consideration sucks.  I can do anything for an hour, and I’ve done it before when not prepared, but I was miserable the whole time.  My masochistic qualities are spotty at times.

The yoga class I went to yesterday was at the studio in Mount Pleasant, which is the largest yoga studio I’ve ever practiced in, and there were more people there than I’ve ever seen. It was SLAMMED with people.  This is what Saturday morning yoga looks like in January.

I went to the movies last night – Django – because, as you know, movies make me happy.  We went to the local Carmike, because the movie was not playing at the smaller arts theater that is infinitely preferable (but also significantly more expensive).  We got there about 15 minutes early, and the theater was already starting to fill up.  By the time the movie started, it was 3/4 full, and after 20 minutes of previews, it was slammed.  This is what the movie theater looks like on a Saturday night in January.

This morning, I went to church.  I love my church, it is the greatest little Episcopal church.  I can walk there, all of the preachers are great, and the congregation is a perfect mix of diversity.  I should go more often.   I love that my Episcopal church here retains so many qualities of the church where I went to school growing up, and the Episcopal church in Athens.  I feel confident I could find an Episcopal church in most places in the world, and some aspect would remind me of home.

You know how if you’ve been traveling abroad for long enough, and you find yourself at the McDonald’s eating a McFlurry, simply because it feels like home.  I never go to McDonald’s, and even when I do, I rarely get McFlurries.  But every McFlurry I’ve ever eaten in a foreign country sticks out in my mind as the greatest McFlurry ever made.  I don’t mean to imply that McDonald’s and the Episcopal church have a lot in common, I’m just saying there is comfort in familiarity.  As a side note, the McDonald’s in Greece serves something called the McGreek – which is a hamburger patty in a pita with tzatsiki sauce on it.  I have it on good authority that the McDonald’s in India serves something called a McVeggie.  Way to assimilate Micky-D.

Apologies for that ridiculous tangent.  Back to church this morning.  It was Epiphany – which is one of the happiest services of the year beyond Easter and Christmas.  I like using Epiphany as a noun.  I felt lighter when I left.  I like to sit in the balcony, and in the summertime, the balcony might have five people in it.  This morning, the balcony was at capacity.  This is what church looks like the first Sunday in January.

In other January news, I’ve been toying with the idea of Drynuary – I normally have little interest in absolutes, and believe that life should be lived in moderation – but the holidays left me feeling a little pickled, and I thought it couldn’t hurt to try out.  I also made this decision on New Year’s day, at Home Team after the polar bear plunge.  I don’t feel convicted enough to last the whole month, but my goal is 10 days, maybe two weeks, of no alcohol, and then a commitment to moderation.  This seems reasonable, healthy, and doable.  I’ve given up drinking for lent a couple of times, but that was at a time when I was much more interested in absolutes and convictions.  And my masochistic tendencies were less spotty.

It is raining today, and there is a  woodpecker outside of my window – going to town on the carolina cherry.  At first I thought it was a redheaded woodpecker, but further investigation reveals it to be a Red-bellied woodpecker.  Apparently redheaded woodpeckers have red all over their head and their neck, and this dude most definitely only had red like a cap on his head, and a white stomach, with a speckled back.   Learn something new every day.

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(I’m laying on the couch, reading, Britt walks in)

Britt:  WHOA!  That is a huge book!

Me:  Yep, I like big books.  This is a children’s novel.

Britt:  What is it?

Me:  His Dark Materials, you know, the Golden Compass. 

Britt:  Wait, I think I read something in a church bulletin that said you shouldn’t read that book or let your kids go see the movie.  Something about it being satanic.  Is it satanic?

Me:  That’s what I’m trying to figure out.  As far as I can tell, it is a children’s novel set in a fictional world, where an entity similarly structured as the church is evil.  Personally, I would compare it to 1984, where the government is evil.  I mean, it was written by an atheist.  But there seem to be some good moral themes.  It obviously is going to come down to good vs. evil.  We’ll see. 

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Dan over at the Pasty Quail has been covering the Golden Compass debate, and I think it is really interesting.  I really like what he has to say here.  I strongly disagree with any organization that wants to tell me what I can and can’t read, or what I should and shouldn’t watch.  Why don’t churches worry about movies full of violence and hate and the kind of evilness that really and truly does exist in this world, instead of waging war against a STORY about an IMAGINARY place?

I haven’t read the whole thing.  So maybe I’ll feel differently about it when I get finished.  But I somehow doubt that a lot of people who are against this book and movie have read it.  I personally have more faith in my own faith than to be threatened by a novel.  Especially not a novel who heroes and heroines refuse to break their sworn promises, and who fight for the innocent, and whose actions are compassionate and heartfelt.  Because that is what I have gotten out of the book so far. 

But, you know, maybe it becomes satanic later on.  I would like to be a part of a church that encouraged children to read the book, or see the movie, and then initiate a discussion about how the "church" or the "god" in the book is different from the Church and the God that we believe in.  My mom said that some people don’t like the idea that people can be moralistic even if they aren’t religious.  But that is just a fact of life, right? 

I’m not sure why this whole thing bothers me so much, but I really don’t like the whole controversy.  I think part of it stems from the fact that it irritates me when people talk about Harry Potter being evil, and even some people think Lord of the Rings is negative, which is really amazing to me. 

There are over 500 facebook groups about the Golden Compass as of today.  Most of them are titled – DO NOT GO SEE THE GOLDEN COMPASS, or BOYCOTT THE GOLDEN COMPASS or THE GOLDEN COMPASS AND IT’S ATTACK ON CHRISTIANITY (wtf?) 

I particularly like – BOYCOTT THE GOLDEN COMPASS AND IT’S ATHEIST MESSAGE.  Really, I would say there appears to be more hate in these groups than in the book that I’ve been reading. 

I want to join the group – YOU KNOW WHAT YOU RELIGIOUS BIGOTS?  I JUST MIGHT GO SEE THE GOLDEN COMPASS.   or maybe – READING THE GOLDEN COMPASS DID NOT MAKE ME AN ATHEIST.

Really, I could spend hours going through these facebook groups.  But I don’t have time.  I need to go finish my novel.  I’m intrigued, and entertained, and challenged by it. 

 

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Church signs

There is a church that I pass on my way to work with one of those message boards outside.  You know the type – Jesus is Lord – or God Answers Knee-Mail.  I saw one that said – Turn or Burn one time that really bothered me.  But most of the time they are punny and encouraging.   

But I don’t know what to say about the one on my way to work.   It said –

Can’t Nobody Do Me Like Jesus.  (corrected from earlier)

Wow.  That’s all I think I can say.  Wow. 

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Coffee Beans

I stopped drinking coffee for a few weeks for religious reasons.  I have given up other things before, and I have always found that, in this world of instant gratification and endless options, what ever indulgence you sacrifice at the alter of lent, you will inevitably replace with an alternative.  For instance, I’ve given up soft drinks before.  I drank sweet tea for two months.  I like sweet tea.  I just prefer coke and doctor pepper most of the time.   But it wasn’t a life changing sacrifice.  When it comes down to it – it is hard to make it about God and not just about self control and substitutes and guilt.  I don’t have an answer for this.  All I know is that it makes me happy to give something up, and it makes me unhappy when I don’t.  I guess I’ve just accepted the fact that giving up something for lent isn’t a cure all of everything else in my spiritual life, and that I just have to take it for what it is.  An experience and a learning process – an exercise.  Because maybe one day there will be something I truly need to give up, for my health or the health of those around me, or some unforeseen event to come.  And God will have already given me a personal experience from which to work.      

If you don’t drink – the rest of this is going to sound ridiculous and I apologize.  I’ve given up alcohol before, a few years back.  And let me just say that there is never a good time to give up alcohol in these parts, mostly because there aren’t a lot of acceptable alternatives.  People want to share a glass of wine, invite you over to drink a beer and wax philosophically while watching basketball.  And if Easter doesn’t happen before the Masters, it is tough to turn down a lemonade and vodka.  But even with the lack of alternatives to alcohol, you realize that there are few situations that are that difficult to adjust to not drinking.  The only situation that I couldn’t handle  was being at a bar past midnight.  Everyone started getting on my nerves.  REAL BAD.  But the best part is that you are completely sober and can get into your car and go home. 

Pretty soon you start to notice that the events you might be missing out of – like staying at the bar late – are events that will happen again and again and again.  Another observation I have on the whole situation is that when you I am in a social event like a bar full of friends or a cocktail party – somewhere that a lot is going on and a glass of wine would be customary – even when I’m not drinking I get peppy and talkative and feel a little tipsy just from the music and the people, once I get past the first half hour of figuring out what to do with my hands.   And it is so fun to wake up in the morning refreshed.  But you do miss out of waxing philosophically over basketball games and wine.

Plus you have to be VERY CAREFUL when you start drinking again after Easter.  Because, well, you just can’t drink like you used to.  Remember how in the movies the drug addicts end up ODing when they get their first hit after rehab?  Right.  That is you.  Start slow.   

But I can say with all honestly that I miss my coffee.  I’ve been drinking chai tea – with soy milk and brown sugar and it is definitely yummy.  But I wandered down the coffee aisle in the grocery store the other day and almost blacked out from the smell.  I wanted to lay on the grocery store floor and inhale deeply.  I also wanted to eat a handful of coffee beans whole.  I’m like the alcoholic who drinks rubbing alcohol.  I still want to eat a coffee bean whole, truthfully. 

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My Favorite View

Awesome

This was in the Teton National Park at the Chapel of the Transfiguration – a precious Episcopal Chapel that made me want to act right and be a better person. 

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Happy Early Easter!

Image001

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