Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Da Vinci Code and writing style

Dan Brown's book The Da Vinci Code has certainly got a lot of attention. And criticism. Of the criticism, I find most interesting the criticism of his writing style. As in, word and phrasing choices.

A good well written example of such criticism is a post in The Language Log titled The Dan Brown Code. It mentions specific points that make it bad writing.

I can't argue with those specific points. I can't argue that they are good, that there's a good reason for Brown to have worded things as he did.

However, frankly, for me as a reader, it doesn't matter. I liked his writing style. Those things which are criticised didn't bother me. They didn't attract my attention, and thus didn't distract from following the story, a story that I did enjoy.

It's all a matter of taste. Different people have different things we like, dislike, or are neutral about. Dan Brown's prose writing is not a negative for me. For me, I'm neutral. When reading the book, it didn't attract attention negatively or positively. For me as a reader, it did the job of conveying the story. For others, it doesn't do that so well, and that's okay.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Racism

We still hear about racism. Personally, I question if racism is the right word. Not that there's not plenty of prejudice out there. But I don't think it's about race.

It's about class. Or perceived class. Not that race, or more properly physical traits, isn't a factor. But only one factor. Not the only factor. Basically, many of us, we either don't like, or are uncomfortable with, those who are different than us. When it comes to differences of social classes, we may respond differently to that discomfort for those we see as above as than to those we see as below us. Deference perhaps to those above us, distain for those below us. Though the discomfort is there both directions.

But, see, we don't make those class judgements based purely on physical traits. Not that it's never a factor. Yes, it probably is, at least for some folks. However, I think it's extremely rare, in the U.S. today, for racial predudice to stand alone without other factors mixed in. If someone treats a poor black different than a rich or middle class black, then something besides racism is going on.

I think we would better be able to counter such predudice if we started calling it by a more accurate term; seeing it for what it is instead of oversimplifying and calling it racism. Call it class prejudice, or maybe classism. And, really, racial prejudice is only one example of the larger problem of predudice towards other social groups. A problem which we see all too much of. Including examples that aren't at all along racial lines.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Reactions to music.

I've been busy lately, and I guess I haven't been motivated to make time to write in here. So, if anyone actually reads this, and if you've been wondering about the lack of posts, that's why.

Now, to the topic of the moment.

It's interesting the different ways people react to really good music. Someone on one music related forum I visit asked if anyone ever laughs because the music is so darn good.

Laughing as a response to music I don't do. I'll laugh at a performer's facial expression sometimes. And sometimes lyrics are worth a laugh. Or stories or jokes performers tell. But not just a "wow that's good" thing.

Sometimes I'll scream or yell after a song in appreciation. Or simply clap.

Othertimes, though, my reaction is quiet. Silent stillness. Which is I suppose a carryover from reacting that way during the song. Not breaking the quiet.

I hope performers understand that reaction. Particularly certain performers who know me. I'd like to think that when the see me quiet after a song, they know it's a positive response to the music.

Another during the song reaction is, sometimes, I just gotta get up and dance. Other songs inspire me to chair dance.

I'm sure my mood affects my reaction, but, also, I think the kind of music affects the kind of response I have.

And I don't think there's one right response to music, or to any given music.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Airplane Travel and Customer Service

The new no liquids in carry-ons policy, frankly, makes for bad custumer service.

The no sharp objects thing was annoying enough. But one's not likely to need those sharp objects while in flight, so it's basically a matter of knowing the rules, and remembering one has those objects in one's purse, diaper bag, briefcase, etc., and thus taking them out before the flight and putting them in one's checked luggage. It's can be annoying, and one can lose valuable items, or ones that are simply useful and annoying to replace. Still, the stuff they've been saying one can't bring on isn't stuff one (most of us, anyway) was gonna use during flight.

But this no beverages thing is different. The other restricted liquids and gels, no problem. But not being able to bring one's own water is way not cool. Yes, one can ask for water from the stewards. And one presumes the stewards will be accommodating. But it's a whole lot easier just to bring one's own. To let people bring their own water so they can keep themselves hydrated is good customer service. I love being able to bring water to concerts. Airlines, however, are no longer allowed to provide the customer service of allowing customers to bring their own water. Which I think is a bad deal not just for the people flying, but for the airlines. Especially the stewards who I suspect are finding themselves doing notably more work since this rule change.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Dark Chocolate M&M's

I like Dark Chocolate. I like M&M's. But there were no dark Chocolate M&M's. I recall wishing for such a product without dreaming that such a product might become reality.

Well, now it has.

Apparently, they first appeared last year (2005) as part of a Star Wars related promotion. This summer (2006) they have been introduced as a regular product.

I discovered them in Las Vegas while visiting M&M's World (as store with all sorts of M&M's related stuff for sale). And, of course, bought some.

While there I also bought a t-shirt that says "Completely Nuts". I thought it suited me. :)

Well, I'm glad I made that visite to M&M's World, because if I hadn't, it might have been quite a while before I discovered Dark Chocolate M&M's. Which are very good. :)

Monday, July 10, 2006

Christian Lite?

I was reading the write up about Amy Grant's 1982 album Age To Age at AllMusic, and came across the following:
She, Chapman, and Bannister, meanwhile, had purveyed a lyrical style that might be dubbed "Christian lite," since it emphasized a "personal relationship" with God that often came off as if the singer were addressing an earthly father or even an idealized boyfriend.
I found very odd that juxtaposition of calling something "Christian lite" that emphasizes a personal relationship with God.

Emphasizing a personal relationship with God is anything but Christianity Lite. It's the heart of Christianity, the point of it all. If Christianity doesn't lead us to a personal encounter and relationship with the divine, then being Christian is rather pointless. Christianity is not about believing all the right facts. Christianity is not about believing what the church or the pastor says, or doing what the church or the pastor says is right. It's about finding God for ourselves. Encountering God in our own lives. The experience of the divine. Finding God in ourselves and in our lives.

If we simply buy into packaged Christianity, that is Christian Lite. It's my view that we aren't meant to buy into a prearranged package that we take as given to us. We are to search deep within. Each of us listening to what God says to her within. Exploring the deeper truths that the Christian stories point to.

So, I'll take that personal relationship Christian stuff. And if sometimes religious songs that emphasize a personal relationship with God come across as singing about a father or about a boyfriend or lover, well, maybe there is a deeper message in that. Maybe, when we see a similiarity between these different types of love, we aren't watering down Christianity, but rather, beginning to find the deeper truth.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

"Why the Da Vinci Code is TRUE!"

I saw an interesting article last week in the Kansas City Star.

It highlights a series of talks that Rev. Paul Smith is having, and gives a synopsis, but even the synopsis is interesting. Makes a good point, the talks give the details.

While the story is fiction, Smith says it reveals four important truths, and “attacking the bad facts in the story is like accusing Jesus of making up the story of the Prodigal Son and therefore saying there is no truth to it.”
Those 4 truths are original diversity, lost gospels, marginalizing women, and distorting the humanity of Jesus.

The article gives a little info on each of those 4. And if you go to Rev. Paul Smith's website, under teachings, you can download 3 of the 4 talks. (The last one will be up in about a week.) The series is called, "Why the Da Vinci Code is TRUE!: (and today’s Christianity is dysfunctional)".

I've read the first one, and found it quite interesting and informative. I look forward to reading the others.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

I saw the movie (documentary) An Inconvenient Truth yesterday. Very powerful. I encourage you (anyone) to go see it. A powerful presentation on the very real problem of global warming. It's an important issue. What kind of world do we want to live in in our futures and our children's futures? The climate changes due to green house gasses causing global warming is real, it's happening now. If we don't start doing things differently, it's going to get much worse.

It's not just a matter of temperatures a few degrees warmer. It's about floods, droughts, hurricanes. The disaster caused by hurricane Katrina may very well be our doing, not just by us choosing to build a city in such a low lying area, and trying to control the Mississippi and all that (though that too), but because, with green house gas emissions, we have raised world temperatures, including ocean temperatures, and warmer oceans makes for stronger hurricanes.

Go see the movie. It's well made, engaging, and it's a very important topic.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Da Vinci Code

Okay, I haven't seen the movie. I'm thinking, it just won't be as good as the book. It's because I liked the book so much that I'm not real inclined to see the movie, because I think I'll be disappointed.

Interestingly, looking at the critics reviews at Yahoo Movies, one says "If you liked the book, you'll be fine" and another "...can't help but fail to measure up to its literary predecessor". Maybe it depends on the person. Me, I do fear for me it would be the latter.

As for some of the ideas presented by the characters in the book (like I said, I haven't seen the movie, though one hopes that the same ideas are presented in the movie), well, I tend to be an open minded sceptic. I ain't going to assume that because a character in Dan Brown's book says it's so, that it's indeed so. But, unless I know otherwise, I'll keep an open mind.

As for Jesus being married, so far as I know there is no evidence at all that Jesus was celibate. It's a projection, I think. Being used to a celibate priesthood, and, in the absence of any direct reference to Jesus being married or single, it's easy to assume Jesus was single without thinking about it. (And I understand that the celibate priesthood doesn't go back to the beginning of Christianity, but does go back to before the protestant reformation.) And, heck, how many people would assume that Peter was celibate? But, hey, wait, Jesus cured Peter's mother-in-law. And St. Paul in one of his letter mentions Peter being married. So, if in the case of Peter, lack of mention of a wife in the gospels doesn't mean he wasn't married, couldn't it be the same for Jesus? And, from what I've read, not being married would have been rather unusual at the time.

Actually, for me, the fact that St. Paul, when talking about his own celebacy, doesn't ever tell us Jesus was single, well, that definitely seems to suggest that Jesus was likely married. Emulating Jesus is not a reason St. Paul ever gives in support of celibacy.

Okay, Jesus being married but his wife never being mentioned is one thing. And believable. But the idea of Jesus specifically being married to Mary Magdalene is a different situation. If that's so, then you have the case of all 4 gospels mentioning Jesus' wife, but not bothering to mention that she's his wife. I personally find that idea a little odd. On the other hand, I have somewhere read a plausible sounding explanation for that.

As for the idea of the sacred feminine, I think that would be interesting to read more about, but it's not a major interest of mine.

Anyway, that's my thoughts on the matter.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Trust and Relationships

Trust is important for relationships. I think any relationship is built on trust. But the kind and amount of trust depends on the relationship.

I go to a bar and a guy at the door asks for money. I trust that he is legitimately collecting a cover charge and give him money. Trust. I don't ask him to proove he is legit. (And those collecting cover charges don't wear uniforms or nametags to identify themselves.)

I go to the grocery store and buy many items. I trust that the items will be rung up at the correct prices, and that the total will be correct.

I pay cash for something I buy. I give a $20 bill for a $5 purchase. I trust that the person will give me $15 back.

Trust is a part of friendship too. Though not so neatly defined as in customer / store relationships. Friendships vary. And with that variation, comes variation in the level of trust.

We feel safe in a relationship when the level and type of trust fits the relationship. I feel comfortable with the clerk at the store if I can expect her to ring up my purchase correctly and give me correct change. As well as trusting her to be reasonably civil and to not jump out and attack me or any such.

I think much of the hurt in relationships comes from either broken trust, or expecting to have a relationship with a higher trust level than what one has.

Self-trust is a factor too. Can I trust myself to deal with what the other person might do? The more I trust myself, the safer I feel. Feeling safe comes from a combination of trust in the other (or the general environment) and trust in oneself.

Sometimes, when someone has broken our trust, it makes it hard to trust others, hard to trust new people in our lives. I think the first step in learning to trust again is to build that self-trust. If I can trust myself to deal with what might happen, then I can take a chance on a relationship.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Secret of Happiness?

Matthew Baldwin wrote in his blog Defective Yeti, "I think the secret to happiness is to care a lot about people who care about you, and to not care too much about anything else.". (link)

Intriguing thought. I think a key part of it is, it's not black and white. If it said "I think the secret to happiness is to care about people who care about you, and to not care about anything else.", then I'd have to way totally disagree. We shouldn't just care about those who care about us. We should care about all people, at least a little. And certain things are worth caring about too. Like the environment for starters.

But, yes, it makes sense to me that the biggest dose of caring should go to those who care about us. People are important. Our relationships. More important than things, I think. And, when it comes to people, yes, those where the caring is mutual are worth the most thought and concern. They merit the highest emotional investment. Or, put another way, we are less likely to get hurt caring about those who care about us.

But when we care too much about those who don't care about us, or who just don't care as much about us as we do about them, well, I've experienced the hurt of caring way too much about someone who didn't care as much about me. It can ache pretty bad. It's hard to be happy when hurting deeply.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't care about those who don't so much care about us. It just means, as I see it, limit the emotional investment. Don't invest yourself overly in someone who's not going to give back.

But do though, show kindness and consideration, and really, I guess, respect, to all. And an openness to friendship. Someone you care about only a little may prove worthy of becoming someone you care about a lot.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Salvation

I wrote this on an email discussion list, and it seems worth posting here.

What salvation means to me on a personal level.

It means not being alone.

It means having a solid trust in myself and in the world around me. Now, by a solid trust I don't mean an absolute trust. It means a trust with a firm foundation and that's not going to be shaken. And part of having that solid trust is knowing the limits of trust -- knowing when not to trust.

Salvation means being able to love and being able to experience the love of others.

Salvation means believing in my own goodness.

Salvation means healing.

So, what is it I am saved from? Pain. Brokenness. Aloneness.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Humor and Marriage

Today, my husband Mike and I have been married 13 years. We've know each other a little over 14 years. Okay, 14 years, one month, and 3 days.

A couple months ago at a Bob Walkenhorst show, I laughed at something Bob said, and Bob said that he likes me because I laugh at his jokes, among other reasons. That night, my husband and I got home about the same time (ah, cell phones are nice), and my husband said something, I forget what, and I laughed. Nothing profound. Innane silly humor. And I thought about Bob's words, and my marriage, and I thought, that is something good in our marriage. Laughing at each others jokes.

I think it's a bit cyclical. Liking and loving my husband makes me more inclined to laugh at his jokes. And laughing at his jokes builds the like and love between us. And somehow, the same humor repeated, instead of getting old and stale, it somehow remains fresh. I think the love helps keep the humor fresh. But I also think the humor helps keep the love fresh.

I think shared humor, being able to laugh together is good for relationships. Not just marriage and other romantic/sexual relationships. Humor, laughter, is good for friendships. And marriage is, among other things, a friendship.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Ties That Bind, Ties That Break (book)

Ties That Bind, Ties That Break by Lensey Namioka.

This was a good book. Worth reading. And a quick read, too. 154 pages, I read it in one day.

It's the story of a girl in China in the early 1900s. She, as a young girl, decides she doesn't want her feet bound. Her father, who knows far better the seriousness of this and the consequences that will follow, okays her remaining with unbound feet.

It's a book about change and gender roles. One thing I found interesting was the idea that, in traditional roles, it's not that women lacked power — they had power within the family — but they lacked choice.

Read more at Amazon.com.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter

Happy Easter everyone. :)

I sing in church choir. We sing 4 days in a row at Easter time, Thursday through Sunday. I do enjoy it, but by the end of mass today my voice was definitely feeling worn out.

This after noon, Easter dinner with my husband's family. That will be nice.

I feel like I should add a proper Easter wish. Something about the Risen Lord. But, I guess, for me, wishing blessings or such doesn't fit with Easter. And, plus, I think I spiritually connect more with Holy Thursday and Good Friday than Easter. And Christmas for me speaks more to my sense of God is here with us than Easter does. I guess I don't much buy into the sin and redemption thinking. For me it's more broken and healed. And I guess Easter doesn't much speak to that idea of being healed.

I'd to share a poem I wrote. I haven't really given it a title, but I think of it as my Holy Thursday poem. Written last year on Holy Thursday, it seems to me to fit the theme of the day, though I didn't have that in mind when I wrote it. Perhaps the poem also works for Easter too.

I love you.
I love all that you are.
My inner child loves you.

The broken places in me
relate
when you share the brokenness in you.

And yet, I see, you are strong and beautiful.
As, I have come to realize, so am I.

older blog entries

For older blog posts, please visit my old blog at Live Journal. http://mysteryroad.livejournal.com/