Broken-down Poetry: February 2010


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Sunday, February 28, 2010

It is fine, it is fine with my soul.

Most of you are well aware of my cynicism. I haven't done a very good job of hiding it, after all. I've been trying to get to the root of it, to know exactly why it is I feel so jaded, but I'm not sure I can narrow it down to one or two things. But I'll try. Maybe then I'll be healed of it.
Friday in our typical day-before-break praise and worship chapel, we sang the hymn "It is Well with My Soul." For some reason, singing it reminded me of when I was in middle school and I'd pray before getting a test grade back.

I'd say: Pleaseohpleaseohplease say I got a good grade, God.
The Spirit would reply: You did fine.

Every time he'd say that: "you did fine." I knew even then that "fine" was a relative term. When I'd pray that in a history class, "fine" meant an A or A+. When I'd pray that in geometry, "fine" meant passing.

God's telling me today that I'm fine. I'll be okay. Whatever I'm going through will pass, and I'll be stronger because of it.

But as an apology to all the people affected by my cynicism, I present this blog. Here's why I've been so melancholy, or at least a few guesses:
1. How hard I work in class or how naturally gifted I am - manifested by my GPA - determines my worth.

I wrote a creative piece the other day about Sixteen-Year-Old Lauren haunting Present Day Lauren. It made me miss my youthful optimism. Observe:
I really don’t have time for this, Laur.
Come on. Here. I’ll help you pack up your books. Where you going anyway?
World lit.
Oh man. I’m in American lit right now. What a killer.
You’ll get an A. Well, A-.
Same thing.
Ha, I like your optimism.
Remember when "A-" was as good as an "A"? Now I'm well aware of the raging gap between a 3.7 and a 4.0.

Prof. Perry and I had a conversation about this a week and a half ago. I told him how desperately I wanted an A in his class, and how he should consider making the class easier in order for me to achieve that. (Despite our good relationship - I have been called a brown noser, teacher's pet and suck up more than once, thank you - he did not relent.) Actually, I think that upset him - that I wanted an easy A.

The thing is, that's not even true. I don't want an easy A. I want to learn. That's what I want more than anything ... to know as much as I can about the things I care about. I want to know more about media and society; I want to know more about writing prose; I want to know more about the character of God.

I just want my grades to reflect that.

And you know what? My grades would reflect that if I tried harder, if I pushed myself further. But physically, I can't handle that. I can't stay up all night writing an essay just to get it to the right word count (sorry, Dr. Allison, you say 1500 words, I say 1000).

So right. Correct. I would rather get an A without the unnecessary hard work, if I was still learning. True. I believe that. I want to be pushed harder, but when I push myself harder ...

I get obsessed.

Vicious cycle. It doesn't even make much sense.

Except that I want to be good at everything. I want to have A's in all my classes. I want to make Mom proud and Dr. Ferguson (my advisor) proud and Prof. Perry proud and all the other lazy comm. students jealous.

It's just not all possible. I can't be good at everything, which is a hard truth for me to get. Thus, it's making me cynical.

2. Despite what I tell myself, I let boys define who I am, or the act of liking boys define who I am.

I was listening to this song on the way home from Jacque and Carlee's:
Say you're wrong
Let's get this over I
Would like to get some sleep tonight ...
Now I know that I was not the man you wanted
You know I loved you and I wanted to make you proud
My intentions were to never give myself to anyone
Look what I've done

Mmm. I love those last two lines: "My intentions were to never give myself to anyone, look what I've done." I'm going to try to remain vague and general here, but I don't know how successful I'm going to be. Pretty much I let myself get burned because of a crush. I haven't been burned like this in a while, and though I've done a pretty good job at blaming him for this, it's my fault.

It's my fault, friend.

Though I don't regret liking him - and despite my general attitude of hatred toward him, I still think he's a really cool guy - I handled it horribly. I expected too much out of someone who didn't return the affection.

I go back to my quote of the month: "When people are in love, they act stupid. When people get their hearts broken, they act even stupider."

As Lindsey would say, "That's not very profound, but it's true."

I want to make it up to this kid. I'm trying to think of the best way to do it, but I think it involves leaving him alone forever. And deleting his number from my phone. Maybe.

All I know is hating him and writing essays for Prose about how much I hate him isn't solving anything. I'm brooding; I'm just getting angrier. It's been seven weeks - seriously. Heart, move on. Start focusing on things that matter!

3. We Christians are good at talking, but we're not very good at doing.

I have Matthew Paul Turner's "Jesus Needs New PR" blog bookmarked on my Google browser - I frequent it often. (Probably because he updates it like a madman. Imagine if I updated this blog three times a day!)

MPT blogs about the Christian subculture mostly, and likes to pick fun at it. He grew up a fundamental baptist, so he has room to make fun of fundies, but sometimes it gets a little ridiculous. He has a "Jesus Picture of the Week," for example, with paintings of our LORD with his own snarky, semi-sacrilegious captions below. Or, he'll rant about Joel Osteen (using $ for all his s's). Or, he'll post videos of dorky Christian musical groups.

It's cool to have a sense of humor. I told you that I frequent this site often - it makes me laugh. But it gets draining after a while. In fact, it makes me wonder if MPT isn't turning into his own kind of fundamentalist. ...

I like what Brian McLaren said (via a character) in A New Kind of Christian: "I've found that liberals can be fundamentalists too. Liberals are often just fundamentalists with a different set of beliefs. Not all of them, but many." p. 9

Huh. Sounds like me most of the time.

(And please, Matthew, if you're reading this - thanks, Google Alerts! - know that this isn't about you. You're just a for-instance so my audience gets it. I will still read your blog. Keep up the JPotW!)

But I am just like MPT. I roll my eyes at people who believe in the literalness of the Bible or who quote scripture in their sleep. I've taken a liking to MPT's jingle: "You can't spell 'fundamentalist' without F-U."

It's kind of disconcerting though. Making fun of something gets old after a while. I wish instead of talking about what's wrong with the Church we could be busy being the Church.

I wish I would. I wish I'd stop focusing on myself or rolling my eyes at others.
Finishing this blog doesn't make me feel better - surprise, surprise. Reading this blog probably didn't inspire you all in any way either.

But I guess that's okay. Here's where I'm at spiritually. It's messy, but oh well. I'd rather be honest and transparent than pretend I have it all together.
"Be true! Be true! Be true! Show freely to the world, if not your worst, yet some trait whereby the worst may be inferred." - The Scarlet Letter

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come
Let this blest assurance control
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate
And hath shed His own blood for my soul
It is fine, it is fine with my soul


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Title Track: Thanks, Postman

I find myself in a bit of a pickle.
See, it’s the middle of the semester: the time everyone just wants to give up and quit, letting grades slip and procrastination kick in. It’s almost spring break – one more day! – and I’m burned out.
So I watch TV. I want my brain to take a break from reading and writing to laugh at Jeff Winger on “Community” or get swept up in the drama of “Heroes.” I’d like to stare at the black box in front of me for an hour and detoxify from everything school-related.
But I can’t. I blame my major.
You know how professors warn you that “this class will kill your love for [insert your favorite major-related activity]”? I’ve heard it more than once. But as a communication major, my love for the media not only gets killed, but beaten relentlessly, kicked around and spit on. So much for detoxifying.
In my media and society class, we’re reading Neil Postman’s “Amusing Ourselves to Death,” which is about how this generation’s prominent form of communication (the media, specifically television) affects the way we think and the way we discover truth. Because television is the predominant medium of our culture, we have become conditioned to certain things. Like, we expect information to be given to us in quick sound bytes and we expect to be entertained.
This doesn’t really sound like a problem, until you really start to think about it. It’s fine to want TV to be fast-paced and entertaining, but if you expect everything to be fastpaced and entertaining, there’s a problem.
Postman argues that our attention spans have been shortened by TV (and, though he wrote the book prior to the Internet, I’m sure he’d agree it has played a part). We can’t stay focused if the content isn’t entertaining.
Take sermons for example. During the school year I go to a liturgical Presbyterian church. The service bounces from prayer to song to Scripture-reading to homily pretty fast – only 20 minutes maximum for each section – yet still I find myself getting fidgety. I’m not the only one, either. The lady in the pew in front of us always does the kids’ word search in the bulletin.
The longest I have to stay focused is only 20 minutes, and still I cannot handle it. TV, what have you done to me? Or think about class: How long do we listen to the professor before we start perusing the Internet? Not very long.
Even as I write this, I see the truth in this. Every time I get writer’s block, I check my Facebook. I can only handle homework for short periods of time before I look for entertainment.
This is why I’m in a pickle. I feel too guilty to watch TV, but know no other way to rest my brain from school work. I wish I had never read Postman and could back to ignorantly blaming my lack of attention on undiagnosed A.D.D.
I’m left to wonder what I should do. How can I rest my brain without damaging it more with television?
I could read – but even I, an avid reader, don’t want to look at tiny print after I’ve spent hours writing a paper. I could play Sudoku – but even that involves a certain amount of math.
Maybe the problem is our time frame for rest. Most of us take sporadic breaks throughout the day between homework assignments. We spend Saturday mornings doing homework then have fun Saturday night.
What if we tried it the Jewish way – what if we worked really hard six days a week and left a whole day for rest, for Sabbath? Instead of taking minor breaks, what if we took one big break.
We wouldn’t need to squeeze in a television show here and there, but could spend the day shopping in Indy or taking a road trip to see friends.
Whenever I think about Sabbath, I get really uneasy. I’d much rather take smaller breaks every day than have one whole day of rest. But when I think about what I’m taking my breaks with – mindless television shows that do more damage than good – the idea of Sabbath becomes more appealing.
Because even though I like watching shows like “Community” after several hours of homework, I don’t feel rested once the episode is over. Most of the time I want to watch another episode and forget about homework completely.
So what do you think, do we try setting aside whole days for rest? Or do we continue bouncing from activity to activity to keep ourselves amused?

The post was originally printed in Indiana Wesleyan University's The Sojourn newspaper.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Kashrut pt. I

It's Lenten season, and this is the first time I've given something up.

Usually I only have one or two acquaintances who sacrifice something for the 40+ days of Lent, but this year I think just about all my friends are jumping on the sacramental bandwagon. Lindsey's giving up peanut butter. Abby's giving up Facebook. I know a kid who's giving up celibacy. (I think he's joking, but I can't be so sure.)

So what am I giving up? Gentile eating habits.

This summer I read "Mudhouse Sabbath" by Lauren Winner, a woman who grew up an Orthodox Jew and converted to Christianity in college. The book is about the Jewish customs she misses the most after becoming a Christian, and why they're relevant to her new faith.

The chapters on kashrut (dietary law) and guf (body) intrigued me. Jewish law forces us to consider what we put into our bodies and how we take care of them. We must to pay attention to what we eat - no pork, no shrimp or lobster, no mixing meat and dairy - and it in turn becomes an act of worship.

I'm on day two of observing kashrut and I've already done a lot more thinking. For instance, I had a burrito for dinner yesterday. This is what I typically get:

Gentile burrito:
1. Tortilla
2. Rice
3. Black beans
4. Ground beef
5. Lettuce
6. Cheese
7. Sour cream

But I can't mix my meat and my dairy. (The Torah says, "Do not cook a young goat in its mother's milk"; it's a way of respecting life.) Now I am forced to choose either dairy (cheese, sour cream) or meat (ground beef) - or neither. So I chose dairy.

Jewish burrito:
1. Tortilla
2. Rice
3. Black beans
4. Refried beans
5. Lettuce
6. Cheese
7. Red onion (for kicks!)
8. Sour cream

This may turn into vegetarianism if I'm not too careful. If I have to choose between meat and dairy, I will always choose dairy.

Nevertheless, keeping kosher is going to be a challenge. But most importantly, it will remind me ...

1.) of Jesus' suffering, not that my cravings can even compare
2.) that my body is a temple of the Spirit
3.) that I should be thankful that Christ's death and resurrection is why I can eat whatever food I like, "clean or unclean" (Acts 10).

I'm going to blog about kashrut, as long as it's interesting. Don't expect every blog post these next 40 days to be about food, but you might see one or two more. Especially when I start craving B-Dubs. (Ugh, which is already. I'm going to miss dipping chicken in Ranch dressing!)


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Title Track: Poets

“Poets do not go mad, but chess players do.” – G.K. Chesterton
A few weeks ago my favorite author, J.D. Salinger, died at the age of 91. This was, ironically, at the pinnacle of my Salinger obsession. I had just bought two of his books I didn’t own; I read passages of them every night before bed. Up until his death, I slept with a copy of “Nine Stories” by my pillow. (I mean this literally – for some reason it was easier to keep it tucked by my side than to set it on the nightstand.)
I spend an unfortunate amount of time thinking about Salinger. Admitting this may disprove Chesterton’s quote in and of itself, whether you call me a poet or not. But it’s true. Even when I’m not reading one of Salinger’s books I think about him. I just wonder what he had been up to for so long.
Since The New Yorker printed his fifth and final novella about the Glass family back in the mid-1960s, Salinger hadn’t published anything or starred on any talk shows. I heard once, on the “Colbert Report,” that he recently sued someone for making a sequel to “Catcher in the Rye,” which was the first time he’d spoken to the press in 30 years.
30 years of silence – interesting. This is why I have been thinking so much about him. What could he have possibly been doing?
I had read once that one of Salinger’s characters, Buddy Glass, is the apparent author of all Salinger’s novels. In “Seymour – an Introduction,” in which Buddy is the narrator, he mentions that he’s written several stories about his family and that his brother Seymour, the poet of the family, wrote volumes of brilliant poetry that was not published because his widow has all rights to them.
This got me thinking. What if Salinger spent 30 years writing Seymour’s poetry? Maybe those 15 unpublished manuscripts they found in Salinger’s safe were really Seymour’s poems. I imagine Salinger staying up until 3 a.m. scrawling poems on parchment in the candlelight, his eyes heavy from sleeplessness and booze.
Maybe poets do go mad.
I went to a Derek Webb concert last weekend in Huntington. Webb is known for his powerful lyrics. As he sang song after song about his convictions, I started thinking about what I would write about if I were a lyricist.
I’d probably start by singing songs about love and God and peace and hope. But then I’d see myself getting burned out pretty easily by all the optimism, so I’d move on to angry rants about politics and war and sin and hatred. Then that’d depress me even more, so I’d take a break from music for a few years, join the Peace Corps, then revert back to my original topics: love and God and peace and hope.
I wouldn’t make a good lyricist.
I noticed, too, at the concert how desperately I try to communicate my emotions and convictions through words like Webb. I think this is an inherent need for humans.
Actually, I know it is.
My blog, the one I link you all to at the end of my column, is called Broken-Down Poetry. I stole the name from a quote by George MacDonald, a 19th century writer and lecturer.
He said, “Poetry is the highest form of the utterance of men’s thoughts. There would have been no prose if poetry had not gone first and taught people how to write. Prose is but brokendown poetry.”
That first part – “poetry is the highest form of the utterance of men’s thoughts” – resonates with me. This is that longing to express myself. Not only do I want to express myself, I want to do it well – poetically. But sometimes I can’t. Sometimes my words get jumbled and it comes out like gibberish.
Words fail me. Living has to be enough. I can’t always tell you what I think, but I can show you. I’m crying – I can’t tell you why, but I am.
Paul wrote, “We are God’s workmanship [his “poema,” poem] created in Christ Jesus to do good works.” My life is a poem.
I am, in a way, like the Salinger I dreamed up – writing in the darkness, spending years striving for the right words. Maybe I can’t express my convictions through song, but I can through the way I live my life.
I want the poetry of my life – my actions, my convictions, my attitude – to reflect who I am in Christ. Even if I can’t express it in words.
The post was originally printed in Indiana Wesleyan University's The Sojourn newspaper.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Creative Writing: On a Bench with Joel

Preface: I promised more creative writing in my 2010 Writing Goals. Here's round two. I wrote this piece for Prose, and I admit I am awfully proud of it. For the most part it's in classic style, but I waver from it here and there (which is why I got points docked). 

The names have been "changed" to protect the "innocent."


“It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation,” said Joel, quoting Herman Melville.

Joel sat on a bench in the far corner of the college student center. An empty cardboard coffee cup sat in the empty seat beside him; his MacBook was propped open on his lap. Joel was haphazardly deleting a list of unanswered emails when the girl arrived. He shut the lid.

“Sit down,” he told her, moving the cup. Joel shoved his Mac into the open satchel bag next to his sneakered feet. As he made room for the laptop, the bag’s contents spilled: gloves for the cold, a book of poetry (to be read for class and for pleasure, he assured her), and a digital voice recorder. He put all the contents back inside except for the recorder.

“When I’m driving in my car and I have a great idea, I talk into this,” said Joel.

She nodded. The girl had a recorder of her own peeking out of her side pocket; she pulled it out to show him. “I have one too.”

He continued, “My housemate left it when he moved out, so I kept it. He never could take care of his things.” Joel tossed the recorder on top of the satchel and kicked the bag underneath his seat.

The girl pulled her legs up onto the bench turning to face him, and Joel did the same. He drummed his fingers on the wooden-arched back; he leaned against the armrest. She inched closer, hoping he wouldn’t notice.

The girl was sure she was in love; there was no other word to describe her feelings. While other boys his age wasted away weekends watching movies and playing video games, Joel made art; he read. Joel was not like other boys, always rambling on about football or girls; he spoke about art and philosophy. He was a teacher, the girl his student. All she wished to do was sit at his feet and listen. And she listened intently.

As they sat there on the bench – the girl unaware of anything but him, he unaware of anything but himself – Joel began telling her of his lengthy theories of theology and the human condition. He told her how he was an Epicurean; he does everything with moderation. He told her he hated obese people; he eats everything with moderation.

He told her what it meant to be an artist – unrestrained by anything but one’s own inhibitions. The girl was a writer; she managed to tell him between breaths. He viewed art more highly.

“With art you can be original,” he said to her. “Writers use everybody else’s words.”

Originality was Joel’s favorite trait; he believed he possessed it in heaps. When he got dressed in the morning, when he chose what to eat, what picture to paint, who to speak to – he thought of no one but himself. He renounced imitation. Joel taunted anyone who thought inside the box, and mocked those who tried so desperately to do the opposite.

“To be nobody but yourself in a world that’s doing its best to make you somebody else, is to fight the hardest battle you are ever going to fight,” said Joel, quoting e.e. cummings.

The girl scooted even closer to Joel. He was too distracted by someone behind her to notice. A blond boy who looked to be Joel’s opposite – blond hair, clean shaven, broad shoulders – was walking past. Joel called after him, but the boy hesitated coming over. After a full-arm wave from Joel, the boy walked to the bench. He stood before them, ready to speak – he opened his mouth to start – but Joel spoke first.

“Can I see them?” Joel pointed to the three-foot portfolio the boy’s white knuckles clutched.

He refused. He knew Joel to be a relentless critic. They continued in a ping-pong of pleas and denials until the boy gave in. He held his breath.

“It’s not bad,” said Joel, looking at a charcoal drawing, “but it’s missing something.” Joel spoke a textbook of critiques: the composition’s off just a bit; this shouldn’t be the focal point. Art should tell a story, he said. This doesn’t tell a story.

The boy looked on expressionless.

“You’re upset?” Joel asked him.

He didn’t respond, but looked at the girl for support. She stared back at him with wide-eyes, saying nothing.

“Well, I wasn’t going to lie to you. What good would that do you?” Joel slid the drawing back into the portfolio and handed it back. “Did you have a chance to see my artwork? It’s hanging upstairs in the art building.”

Gripping his portfolio much harder than before and walking in strides much more hurried than before, the boy left without answering.

Joel turned to the girl. “I wasn’t going to lie to him.”

The girl, blinded by her infatuation, could not see what the boy saw. She could not see the self-absorption, the superiority complex. To the girl, Joel was an intellectual, an artist with insight she could only understand if he broke down it down into bit-sized pixels.

Joel was right: the boy’s composition was all wrong.

“It was nice talking, but I need to finish my homework,” said Joel.

Without voicing the truth – her desire to stay, to hear him talk more – the girl got up and stuck out her hand. “Goodnight, Joel.”

He met her hand with his. But mid-shake, he scratched her palm with his forefinger. He smiled. “I like to touch people in a way they’ll remember me.”

The girl blushed as she walked off in the same direction as the blond boy. She didn’t look back, nor did Joel watch her leave.

Reaching under his bench, he retrieved his MacBook, opened it, and deleted a few more emails before beginning his homework.

Afterward: In classic prose, the writer presents a truth to her reader. When my classmates read this, they thought my truth was that "Joel is an egotistical jerk." That wasn't my original intent, but okay. 

Dr. Allison, however, wrote the greatest comments on my paper. After Joel acts elitist toward the girl (for the first time), he wrote: "He should be slapped!" And after the girl scooted closer to Joel the second time, he wrote: "She still likes him? Why?"

Oh, Dr. Allison, if only you knew.

Title Track: sXe

I used to think I was hardcore. If you know me at all – and even if you don’t – you can probably find the irony in that statement. I am not even close to being hardcore. I don’t dress hardcore (note the cardigan in my mug shot), I don’t listen to hardcore music and I don’t act hardcore. I’m quiet and conservative – nothing about me is hardcore.

But in high school, I thought I was hardcore. It started freshman year. My friend Katie, who was legitimately hardcore, always went to shows to see her friend Cam play in a band called Chinese Express. As a sheltered 14 year old, this blew me away. I didn’t know teenagers formed garage bands anymore. It seemed so 1980s. I kept thinking about that episode of Doug when he starts a band with Skeeter. Who knew kids actually did that kind of stuff?

I decided that I was going to love this band too. I adored Katie and her hardcore clothing and scene hairstyle and musical knowledge, so I played copycat. Katie burned me Chinese Express’s CD and I pretended to enjoy all the screaming. (Though, I did listen to a lot of semi-hardcore music at the time – lots of Emery – I didn’t really care for all the screaming.)

I would talk about all the local bands as if I knew anything about them: “Oh, the lead singer of SaidHe is awesome, but their music is too raucous for my taste.” Or, “Japan with an E is the worst band ever. I’d rather gouge my eardrums out.”

My junior year of high school I dated a boy in a hardcore band. Luke was the guitarist for Hanacoda, a band that broke up because its members couldn’t decide if they wanted to play for God or for rock-and-roll.

The first hardcore show I attended was at this sketchy local in downtown Fort Wayne. My favorite hardcore poet, Bradley Hathaway, was reciting some of his work and I was dying to see him. My best friend Ashley and I went together. I told Ashley, who looked even less hardcore than me, that we can’t go to this show looking like we usually do. Ashley and I typically wore bright colored polo shirts and neon headbands in our hair. I told her that we needed to look cool and tuff.

So Ashley and I wore matching shirts. We looked infinitely less-cool than we would have in polos.

At the show, Bradley recited one of his most well-known poems called, “The Annoying Hardcore Dude Who Goes to Far,” about, well, an annoying hardcore dude who goes to far. In the poem, he rattles off all the things hardcore kids stand for – animal rights, manliness, not being emo – then exposes their contradictions.

The poem says, “Somebody told me hardcore was a place to share what you believe, but I didn’t like what dude said, so I flipped him off and told him to leave.

“I’m mad at society because my parents won’t buy me a new computer, even though I asked politely. My Playstation 2 is broken, but my Xbox works. When that breaks though, something will hit the fan and I’ll express myself with rage and anger, just like a man. ‘Cause that’s how it’s done, right? You get mad and start a fight, right?”

Bradley argues that these kids are quick to stand up for trendy issues, but not for things that matter – like combating materialism or hatred.

Some hardcore kids call themselves “straight edge” (sXe), which means they are hardcore kids that are socially softcore. This is the category my friends and I fell into. We didn’t drink, we didn’t do drugs and we didn’t have sex.

I think what Bradley was hinting at in his poem is that lots of sXe kids stand up for things, but not always the right things or the best things. There’s a lack of consistency.

And I don’t think this problem is unique to the so-called hardcore or sXe kids.

I think it’s interesting how quick we Christians are to rally against something like gay marriage because homosexuality is forbidden in the Bible, but get drunk on weekends, even when there are more verses forbidding drunkenness. We boycott abortion clinics but cheer on the executions of our enemies.

When I was in high school, I really wasn’t hardcore, I was just ascribing to a culture I thought was cool. I wanted to be trendy; I wanted people to admire me.

Christianity isn’t something we can put on like that. We don’t get to pick and choose who we’re going to love or what truths we want to stand behind. If we believe in a faith that transforms us, that makes us new creations, we have to become more consistent in what we stand for.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


I wrote in my journal today about how I understand why ANGER is one of the Seven Deadliest Sins.

I'm really sick of people's attitudes.
What's worse is that I can't even pretend that my attitude's any better.
I roll my eyes at people who say mean, bigoted curses,
but then I think worse thoughts in my head.
I need a refocus.

I'm reading a book of sayings by the Desert Fathers, early church monks who lived in the desert (duh) to escape society and politics. I can't get one line out of my head:

So it is with anyone who lives in a crowd; because of the turbulence, he does not see his sins: but when he has been quiet, above all in solitude, then he recognizes his own faults.

There's so much truth to that. I think about what I said a few posts ago, about "revertigo," how whenever I'm on campus I start losing focus on things that matter. It's because there are so many distractions. So much is going on. There's so much to do.

At home, my bedroom is my monastery.

Here, though I live in community with my sisters in Christ (my fellow "nuns," to continue the metaphor), I can't get the quietness of a real monastery. It's keeping me from seeing my sins ... perhaps because I focus too much on others'.

I really need a refocus.


Over Christmas break I wrote a creed, a statement of beliefs in rhetoric that I understand, emphasizing points that I believe to be most essential. I imagine this is a work in progress.

But, in light of that perhaps unnecessary preface, here is my creed:

We believe in God, Maker of all we can and cannot see.
We believe in the Trinity: the holy relationship of Father, of Son and Spirit.
We believe that one Third of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, became human to liberate us.

We believe He was born of a virgin’s seed, lived on earth as a human, was tempted – like us, suffered – like us, but remained without fault.

He was tried and put to death as a threat to the Empire. And on the third day he resurrected, reacquainted with his followers, and ascended into heaven.

We believe in sola gratia – that only through God’s radical forgiveness we can be Liberated.
We believe in sola fide – that only through taking Jesus seriously can we receive His Grace.
We believe in sola Scriptura – that only through God’s Speaking can we know this Truth.

We believe in the universal Church, acting as Christ to the world: professing peace, love, grace and justice. We believe in the Kingdom already established on earth, and not yet complete.



Is there anything in my creed you would emphasize more? Is there anything you'd emphasize less?