28 December 2011

Ms. Palin and the Appeal of Gossip

I read Going Rogue. It was free and I like biographies. And secretly (or not so secretly) I'm a terrible person and thought it would be ridiculous and campy and I would be amused. I wasn't amused. Actually in some places I was kind of saddened. And in some ways ashamed.

The book is not actually written by Ms. Palin although it's sort of confusing since her ghostwriter/helping hand/co-author/whatever they are called isn't easily found. So, for about the first half I was thinking, "Hey, she's not so bad actually." Anyway, the actual physical writing was done by Lynn Vincent, a bestselling conservative author, whose other works I've never read. It's just your basic memoir and recounts the life of Sarah Palin from childhood till a time after the election of 2008.

There wasn't a whole lot of earth shatterment in the book. Nothing really surprised me, but I did learn something about myself, and I could possibly extend this to most of my fellow Americans. We. Love. Gossip. It's kind of disgusting. I can remember most of the Palin incidents in and around the 2008 GOP campaign and laughing along with everyone else. As I read each of those incidents explained I found myself a little ashamed for judging a woman (according to her own testimony, a fellow believer) whom I had never met just based on what I saw on the news. I'm not going to go all conspiratorial on my readers. I don't think there is a giant liberal machine otherwise known as "newsmedia" (for the record the Occupyers think the news is owned by the right-wingers, so they get it coming and going), but I do think that sometimes when we hear something bad about people we are inclined to (if not outright believe it) take the "where there's smoke there's fire," mindset.

What I found particularly heartbreaking was some of the comments made about her children and husband. There really is no reason for this. None. Zero. I am a person who thinks that if a man (or woman) can't be faithful to their spouse, it will be hard for them to be faithful to a country (Yes, Mr. Clinton, that's you), but if it's an unconfirmed rumor floating around about a minor child, everyone who ever printed it or talked about it should be ashamed of themselves.

I don't think I necessarily got a kick out of listening to the stuff about her family, but I do remember the Katie Couric interview and thinking Ms. Palin must be the stupidest person on the planet. Now, her rendition of the interview was that she let Ms. Couric's attitude (or perceived attitude) get to her and she stopped answering the questions. And she even says she regrets this. She also says that parts of her answers were left out. I don't claim to know what actually happened, but I should have realized there are two sides to every story.

Anyway, I'm not recommending this. I only felt sort of ho-hum about it. It was a bit campy, and in some places kind of dragged (unless you are the type of person who finds minutiae of Alaskan-made policies fascinating), but I do think there is a valuable lesson to be learned in reading biographies, and yes even memoirs (as self-serving as they can potentially be). You are allowing a public figure the chance to defend herself (or himself). And it keeps you kind of humble. I was glad for the lesson.

12 December 2011

Weight of Glory

In 2012 I am beginning a new project. I plan on reading all of C.S. Lewis's works. All of them. No exceptions. Poetry, prose, theology, and fiction. I'm very excited about it. I am actually so excited I've already begun to get a head start on it. I picked up Weight of Glory most recently. Which, as it turns out is only one of a series of lectures my copy contains.

I just completed Why I am Not a Pacifist and I found myself very uncomfortably confronted with some things that I have been taking for granted. I'm very much a pacifist though not in the official political sense. I engage in confrontation only when it's necessary and only when it's someone I deeply care about. I believe nations should try every means possible to avoid war, using it only as a last resort. I don't relish violence or fighting at all, but I do adhere to Thomas Aquinas's just war theory. I only do this; however, when I'm really pushed up against a wall. C.S. Lewis in his typical way pushed me up against a wall.

The concepts of war and peace are very big concepts and easy to get emotional about. Lewis strips off all of the emotional baggage and attacks merely the actual logistical and theological reasons for a strong pacifist belief. I was left at the end of lunch break just staring off into the distance digesting it all. I'll probably still hold to the belief that nations should try every means possible to avoid war, but I'll be a little less shoot from the hip about war being hell from now on.

The lecture titled Learning in Wartime is fantastic too. If you have read The Screwtape Letters you'll recall the letter from Screwtape to his nephew Wormwood chastising him over being "delirious with joy" over the war. Wormwood is exceptionally excited because he thinks the war will make it easier to capture souls, but Screwtape knows better. He knows that war opens up new more eternal questions, causes men to act selflessly and turn to God in their fear. Learning in Wartime re-opened some of those thoughts and gave me fond memories of The Screwtape Letters. I think that will be the first in my 2012 Lewis Marathon.

Learning in Wartime specifically addresses the pursuit of learning and creating and beautifying the world during a time of war. His main point is that for a Christian, we’re always at war, a bigger and more eternal war. So we should go on living our lives and practicing our arts and vocations and exercising our skills for the glory of God. It’s a very uplifting and surprisingly relevant essay.

Before I go let me leave you with a quote from Learning in Wartime that I found particularly close to my own thoughts, but naturally worded much better. "The war creates no absolutely new situation; it simply aggravates the permanent human situation so that we can no longer ignore it. Human life has always been lived on the edge of a precipice. Human culture has always had to exist under the shadow of something infinitely more important than itself. If men had postponed the search for knowledge and beauty until they were secure, the search would never have begun."[1] I'm actually still right in the middle of the collection of essays so I don't have much to say on the book as a whole, but I'm really enjoying it. I may update again after I’ve completed it, but I’m reading so many things right now it will be a mercy if I can write much about them at all.

[1] Lewis, C.S. Learning in Wartime Sermon presented at Evensong in St. Mary the Virgin , Oxford, England, October 22, 1939

05 December 2011

Online Book Club

I'm taking part in an online book club that was brought to my attention by my friend Carrie. You can find more details at her blog Reading to Know.

Reading to Know - Book Club

Beginning in January we'll be reading Beyond Opinion by Ravi Zacharius. This is very exciting for me because I've wanted an excuse to read one of his books for a very long time. So, I'll be posting what I think of the book on here and you can feel free to join in too! As I've said before, I'm very technologically illiterate, so if you want more information on this go to Carrie's blog. I'm just here for the party.

02 December 2011

Young and Unashamed

This was exactly the post I needed today!

Yo so in view of Gods mercies
We remove our worldly uniforms and throw on crucified jerseys
Holy and acceptable, Ruled by the divine
Jesus, being transformed by the renewal of the mind
Yes, you was designed, obedience to the scriptures
With love as the key ingredient in the mixture
The Godly man’s picture, under the new covenant
Mindful of God, we submit to the government
Not passing judgment, on weaker brothers
Instead we spread love to ‘em to keep ‘em from stumbling
When we do this, God will truly then smile
Because Christ is glorified through Jew and Gentile
The God of peace, at his judgment seat
Will soon crush Satan under our feet (No Doubt)
This is just an overview, go and read Romans through
And I pray the God of Romans will grab a hold of you