Monday, July 31, 2017

Review of Kesha's Praying

When I saw friends sharing the video for Kesha's "Praying" on the internet, I had to check it out. I was quite surprised by what I found. She uses bright colors and black and white to show her emotions. The song itself is most likely a reference to her struggles with her label and producer over the past year.
While she could have chosen to react in anger, she instead offers prayers for her abuser and hopes that he will change.
The music video shows crosses and a holy Bible. It looks like Acts 4 and Acts 1 are written on pages of an open Bible. As far as I could see, Acts 1 does not fit Kesha's situation. But in Acts 4, Peter and John speak to the Sanhedrin. Verses 16-20 could reflect Kesha's situation:
16 “What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everyone living in Jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign, and we cannot deny it. 17 But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name.”
18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! 20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (NIV, https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+4&version=NIV)
I admire Kesha's expression of grace while celebrating her freedom from her struggles.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Review of Harry Styles' Sign of the Times

I heard that Harry was making an album, and I was excited. As I'd read online, I suspected every song would have a rock focus, since he enjoys old rock songs. I was pleasantly surprised by "Sign of the Times." It had strong vocals but also tender moments. I thought that it was too long. The bridge showed a lot of his range, and I had to wait for that while listening to the chorus again. Other than that, I have no critiques.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Waiting, Not Dating Narrative

I was taught not to chase boys, but to wait for the "right one." I heard it from my family and some from my church as a teenager and have carried it with me into my young adult years. It's a passive waiting. I say, "I'm waiting for my future husband" to cover up the fact I'm not making much of an effort to meet men. I'm not dating anyone. I wait for them to come to me, but they don't.
From what I've learned this semester through hearing a speaker's story, that's not realistic.

Is there a solution? Is it a problem that leaders assure teens that they will find Mr. or Miss Right? Should they change the narrative? As one who grew up on Disney movies and rom-coms, is it possible for my siblings' kids to grow up with another narrative? It will take a conscious effort on the part of those who interact with children to change this. It could be difficult, but it's better for them than being blindsided later in life with the possibility that they may not ever get married.
Is my personality a part of this? Absolutely. I'm introverted, which means I have to push myself to make friends. Not everyone who grows up with this narrative will have the same struggles as me. However, young girls in Christian communities who hear this could carry it with them longer than anyone expects. I appreciate the aspect of waiting in a physical sense, but not the aspect of waiting in a relational sense.

Friday, February 10, 2017

How to be Christian When You’re Different by G. Connor Salter

A theologian and a rock star walk into a kitchen. This isn’t a joke.
In an event filmed by Fuller StudioBono (born Paul Hewson, lead singer for U2) visited Eugene Peterson’s home (author of the Message Bible) in 2015 to discuss their mutual love of the Psalms and what they see happening in Christian culture. 
Not only was this event interesting because they’re very different men – one’s a soft-spoken academic, the other’s never left his loud, blue-collar roots – it was also interesting because Bono seemingly has many reasons to avoid religious people.
While Bono’s a Christian, he’s always had a complex relationship to the church. He was born in Ireland to a Catholic father and Protestant mother not long before Catholics and Protestants began killing each other in the Troubles.
In his late teens, Bono teamed up with two Christians and a skeptic to form U2, and initially the three Christians sought Christian mentors and even joined a Christian group called Shalom in the late 1970’s.

Very quickly, things got in the way.
One thing which created friction is U2’s music doesn’t sound like typical worship music – Steve Stockman noted in his book Walk On that U2 songs often have spiritual ideas or themes, but they’re rarely stated in church language. Apparently the Christians who mentored Bono at the time didn’t see this spiritual component, and Shalom members felt being a rock musician was antithetical to being Christian.
Another factor was all four members of U2 had a strong affinity for what Bono refers to as the "surreal" — things like avant-garde art, street performing, and dressing or behaving provocatively for shock value. As Bono explained it in a Rolling Stone interviewShalom members “pretended that our dress, the way we looked, didn't bother them. But very soon it appeared that was not the case.” Eventually Bono and his bandmates left Shalom, and have generally avoided mainstream Christianity ever since. 
What’s interesting is that Bono’s never fully given up on Christianity. While Bono freely admits his disagreements with Christians, he’s also told journalists how much he learned about studying Scripture from those early mentors.
Bono doesn’t attend church regularly, but he’s stated he reads the Bible and prays daily.
In interviews connected to the Fuller Studio film, Bono talked about reading psalms with his bandmates before concerts -- an interesting example of God being with people, even where only two or more are gathered in his name. 
As his friendship with Peterson shows, Bono’s still willing to seek out Christians he respects and who’ve influenced his spiritual journey.
The Christian life can be hard, especially for those of us who are a little eccentric.
Sometimes our spiritual mentors let us down. Sometimes well-intentioned Christians simply don’t see what we’re trying to accomplish. Sometimes, unfortunately, we have to make decisions those other Christians disagree with.
In the end though, the point is to pursue and become more like Christ. We have to be willing to focus on having a strong relationship with God and find ways to achieve that, even in the face of difficulties.
G. Connor Salter is a freelance writer and Content Creator for the Odyssey. He has written for the Evangelical Church Library Association, Christian Communicator magazine, and maintains a regular blog at https://gcsalter.wordpress.com/.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Goodbye Girl Meets World

When I first began watching Girl Meets World (GMW), I was a freshman in college. I had seen few Boy Meets World episodes but was interested in a new story for a new generation. I enjoyed watching Riley, Maya, Lucas, Farkle, Zay, and Smackle grow up and learn.
While some episodes were purely for an entertainment value, others taught lessons such as appreciating your parents, dealing with liking the same boy as your friend, and handling a poor grade in a class. I learned to sympathize with Maya's life in a single-parent home and Farkle's insecurities.
There was something compelling about Riley and the stories.
Spoilers are contained in the following section.

I appreciated the last episode. It cleared up some lingering Boy Meets World questions about Mr. Turner's feelings towards Shawn and both actors playing Morgan. I liked the flashbacks with Cory and Josh and how they fit into the end of the episode. I did not like how quickly Lucas got over Riley's leaving, although I didn't think the writers developed their relationship well in general once they were officially a couple. I appreciated Riley and Maya's last conversation. "Thunder." "Lightning." "Done."

No more spoilers. Read on.
Most final episodes of Disney shows have more flashbacks to previous moments, but the writers already gave that to us with "World Meets Girl." I am content with how the writers ended this chapter for the characters. If GMW does move to another network, I don't know whether or not I will continue to watch. I appreciated the show's at times lighthearted feel, and I don't know if the show will work if other networks try to take it in a darker direction.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Excerpt from World of Shadows by Emily Rachelle

I‘m running, tripping, clawing at the trees around me to climb back up, losing my grip on the slippery moss. My breath rips out of my chest and throat, grasping oxygen desperately. I never look behind me—I‘m not running away, I‘m running toward. Toward what I don‘t know; I pray that it‘s home.

            A tree root catches my foot and I tumble down. My body flings arms over legs over feet as I fail to protect myself from the roots and twigs that tear my skin. The scant moonlight disappears as the sticks do, and suddenly I‘m rolling over cold, hard dirt with no light whatsoever and no idea where I am.

            I collide with a cool dirt surface. Light like that from candles reflects off the dirt around me, causing it to look reddish and alive. Slowly, I push myself off the floor and look around me. I‘m alone in a tiny dirt room that looks like a hollow cube, with nothing on each wall but a single tree-branch torch. In front of me a low-ceilinged dirt tunnel stretches out, with similar torches hanging at intervals. I crane my neck to see another dirt tunnel above me, the one I fell through, lacking torches, and curving so that the other end is blocked from sight.

            I feel a hand, calloused and firm, grab my arm and whirl to view my captor—but I‘m still alone. Another hand traps a scream in my mouth and desperate, foreign whispering tickles my ear. It‘s a woman‘s scared voice.

            “Je suis une amie! Tais-toi et suis-moi—dépêche-toi!“ I struggle against the hands I can‘t see and swing out my own, seeking any form of contact but finding none.

            “Friend!“ The voice is pleading and strangled now, and I barely recognize the English, but I stop moving. After a moment, the pressure on my mouth dissipates. The hand on my arm slides down to my hand and pulls me to my feet, then begins dragging me along the length of the tunnel. The end of the tunnel curves to the right and I continue stumbling behind the incredibly fast invisible woman. This tunnel has carved wooden doors in between torches, but the place seems to be completely empty.

            A terrifying noise, reminding me of some animal, echoes through the dirt halls, and for a moment my guide freezes. After barely a few seconds, she pulls me forward even harder than before. I nearly fall from the sudden movement. The noise is getting louder—it‘s some cross between screeches and a roar, and I know it‘s nothing I‘ve ever heard before. I struggle to keep moving. The strange, monstrous noise is joined by cries that jump-start my pulse to twice its normal rhythm. These sounds are too familiar, and I cry out from the realization that they‘re the sobs of humans.

            I stop and jerk my hand away from my unseen guide. How can I continue to run when there are people here, somewhere down in these tunnels, crying out? But the cool hand takes mine again and tugs over and over, frantically begging in that strangled, broken voice.

            “Hurry! Come! Nous devons nous dépêcher, s‘il te plaît!“

            I submit and again we‘re running, past two more tunnels, until we take another right and tightly packed dirt walls give way to smooth stone. We‘re in some sort of cave. There are no torches here, but the hand continues pulling and I follow, more slowly now. We‘re partly walking and partly climbing, slowly going in an upwards direction. The further into the cave we walk, the less the torchlight from behind us reflects on the stone walls. After a short while we‘re in complete darkness. We‘re barely inching forward, until a new source of light starts reflecting into the cave ahead of us. The next time we turn, I can see that it‘s sunlight. The hand lets go of me and I turn toward it.

            “Wait! Where am I? What do I do now?“

            There is no answer, but a firm push on my back makes me stumble toward the light. After a minute I walk forward and climb out of the cave into—

In this urban fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast, modern-day teenager Beila Durand is plagued by nightmares that lead her to discover - and wind up trapped in - a cursed underground world. The invisible people that live in this medieval village depend on Beila learning the truth behind their curse - and why she is the only one who can set them free.

In her quest for answers, however, all she seems to find are more questions. Where do the echoing screeching at night originate? Who is the isolated man that speaks with Beila from the shadows of his cloak? What does this New York girl have to do with any of it? And will she ever find a way back home?

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Racial Issues: A New Perspective

It began with a realization and a prayer.
During the last year, I realized that I do not have many friends of a different race (white) or culture (American) than me. At some point, I prayed something like, "God, please bring more people who are different than me into my life." Racial tension has been a large topic within the last year, and many of my classmates have spoken strongly about this issue on blogs or social media. I would excuse the issue by thinking that I didn't have anyone to relate to who was dealing with it. Therefore, I did not engage with it in conversation or action.
God answered this prayer by putting more men and women of different races and cultures in areas of my life this semester than I think I've ever interacted with before.
Last Wednesday in chapel, Pastors Derrick Rollerson and Mark Soderquist spoke about race and unity. It was humbling to listen to them confess weaknesses as black and white men serving inner-city Chicago together.
Because of the new friends that God has given me, I can no longer consider myself to be excluded from racial issues. The excuse that I had is gone. I'd rather not look my friends in the eyes one day and apologize for my inaction. I care about their lives.
Even if it's in ways that seem small, it's time for me to act.