August 27, 2009


Last weekend I saw what I thought would be a typical QT movie, meaning of course, that it would be brimming with undue and over-done violence, would be humorously irreverent, expertly filmed, completely stylized... and totally enjoyable. Inglorious Basterds was exactly that, and I loved every minute of it.
What I didn't expect was the sociological/philosophical questions it would bring to mind.

*** spoiler alert ***

I sat there, laughing (though shielding my eyes from the gore) with the rest of the theater when the members of Brad Pitt's inglorious squad beat a German soldier to death. I laughed (though shielding my eyes from the gore) when they carved a swastika into their foreheads so they could never forget the atrocities they'd committed while wearing the Nazi uniform. I was pleased to see that they weren't going to pull a Valkyrie, but that Hitler was indeed going to die, and of course-- I laughed when they riddled him with bullets. I felt a sense of satisfaction when a theater full of Nazis and Nazi sympathizers burned.

But then it hit me... how sick is this? How sick are we that we, as a collective group of individuals in a theater, are actually happy and pleased to see the torture and deaths of a group of people (however heinous their own actions had been). Were we really so very different from the Nazis in the movie who laughed as their hero sniper killed hundreds of ally soldiers? We sneered from our theater seats as Hitler laughed at the allies dying... and then we laughed as the movie depicted their deaths.
I don't even know if QT intended this little commentary, because I think with a film like that, he enjoyed seeing the Nazis "get theirs" as much as the rest of us in the theater. Even so, it made me think... and maybe you'll think about it to...

August 24, 2009

Reaching the (Supposedly Reached) Unreached...

There is a people group that are being ignored by the Christian masses. This group is not located in a distant jungle, atop a mountain, the remote tundra, or the epic desert. The group to which I am referring is the civilized western Europeans.

Despite the rich and legendary Christian threads woven into their tapestry, these countries have effectively eliminated God from their lives, leaving less than 1% of born-again believers among most European countries. That means that most African and Middle-Eastern countries have a higher percentage of Christians than the European countries which have taken their religious freedom for granted for centuries.

The Irish (despite their St. Patrick, who brought Christianity to the Celtic pagans) have a cover of Catholic religiosity and Protestant violence, but the brokennes, alchoholism, and emptiness hangs over the country as thick as the fog that hangs over the fields.

The German (despite being the birthplace of the Reformation) have all but abandoned their heritage of Christianity in favor of Post-Modernism.

The French, the Italian, the Greek... all of these countries are united in more than their currency system. They have abandoned the faith they once had, and because they are not a third-world country, because they speak a recorded language, and because they have the freedom to believe in Christianity if they choose, they are ignored.

I would even go so far as to say that some Christians turn their nose up to those who would be missionaries in Europe, as if they "can't take the heat," or are looking for a posh assignment in missionary-dom. That kind of attitude is ridiculously uncalled for and ungodly. As if those in Europe didn't need the gospel as much as someone in the Congo. I believe the great commission told believers to go into ALL the world, not just the remote corners. The missionary to Europe faces different challenges than his brother in the Amazon, but they are challenges just the same. Hearts are hard, probably harder than most. Europeans are well-off, and believe they have all they need-- why come to Christ? They argue with intellectual stubbornness that an aboriginal tribe wouldn't possess.

This is a frustration of mine, this is a passion of mine. This is something I want to see change.

August 17, 2009

How I See It...

It is the first day of school. I am wearing new shoes that smell so good I took an extra whiff this morning (knowing of course, that would be the last time I could do so before they began to smell of sweat, not freshly manufactured goods). I am also wearing a new outfit, stiff with store-starch and creases, and Mom carefully put my hair into a ponytail this morning. I am scrubbed clean. On my back is a new backpack that has not yet lost its shape, and in said backpack are fresh, clean, new supplies just waiting to be used: a crayon box filled with that comforting crayon smell; freshly sharpened pencils with perfect, unused erasers; pudgy little "pink pet" erasers that would most likely not be used for erasing but would instead be picked apart in moments of curricular boredom; notebooks ready to be filled with knowledge; Lisa Frank or kitten folders and trapper-keepers-- the beginning of organized bliss! What's more, I also have in my possession a brand-new Mickey and Minnie lunchbox, complete with thermos that is filled with pineapple-orange-banana juice. There is most certainly a note from Mom inside.

I shyly walk onto the playground. It's still a little warm, but there's a cool breeze reminding me that my favorite season is on the way. I haven't seen most of my classmates for three months, and some of them have really grown taller. All are scrubbed clean, and the boys have their hair combed as neatly as if it were picture day. The new shoes, clothes, and backpacks gleam with the splendor of "back-to-school," and there's a bit of pride in each young face.

Inside, the room is clean and organized, with lots and lots of apple paraphernalia. My name is on my desk, my books, my supplies: I am expected and wanted here. The teacher is excited and smiley, the students are nervous and anticipatory. I love school.


It is the first day of school. I am wearing the only shoes I know I can stand up in for eight hours. I could not afford a new outfit, so instead I wear whatever looks professional, stylish, and commands respect. I took less time than usual on my hair this morning because I was so tired that I got ready too slowly and started running late. I am scrubbed clean, yet wear a layer of sweat in this Florida heat. On my arm is an over-stuffed purse filled with everything that should be in my desk and not in my purse; what's more, I have in my possession a plastic Target back filled with a peanut butter sandwich, apple, and a 100-calorie pack. There is certainly no note, unless of course I write one to myself to remind myself to bring the cupcakes or drop off the movies.

I frenziedly walk into the school, drop off the cupcakes, and make my way to the parking lot where I watch all the students roll out of their cars in their new shoes, clothes, and backpacks. It's 8:00 a.m., but it's already ungodly hot and it's so humid that my hair shrinks two inches. I haven't seen most of my students for two and a half months, and some of them have really grown taller. All are scrubbed clean; the girls' hair has grown inches and the boys' hair has been cut inches. There is an air of doom and gloom in the sorrowful yet expectant faces I meet with a smile.

Inside, my room is clean and organized. In my compulsiveness I am dreading the entrance of the students which will inevitably lead to a room that is less clean and organized. There is no apple paraphernalia. My name is on the list of outside, lunch, and devotional duty: I am expected here. I act excited and smiley; the students are nervous and anticipatory and a little bit more brazen than I ever remember being. Somehow, even so, I love school.


It's interesting how point of view changes when you go from the classroom to behind the desk...

August 13, 2009

The Mealtime Memories...

I can still smell big burgers and fries (and sometimes noodles and garlic bread) when I think of some of my favorite memories. My memories paint me walking through the sunless, fluorescent tunnels of Moody, rounding that corner where maybe you'll spy a cute boy coming from the boys' dorm, and then up the ramp to the glorious meadow of tile where sunlight peeked in and people swarmed from every direction with one mind: food. If it was indeed "Big Burger Thursday" at lunchtime, the line into the SDR curled back around into the bowels of the tunnels, back towards the areas only Food Service ever dared to trod. There seemed to be a haze of gluttony hanging over each college student, for we had smelled the big burger and fries from the courtyard, and followed its aroma to the tunnels. We would stand in line chatting with our friends, but secretly we were planning our burgers and mentally strategizing our way through the SDR, praying the lines would move quickly or that they wouldn't run out of that blessed colby jack cheese.
Finally the meal-ticket-puncher would punch-punch the meal out of my card, and then it was every Moody student for himself. Mentally arming myself, I'd walk straight to the lefthand side, as everyone knew the righthand side had the leftover junk that only those too lazy for the big burger line would touch. Tray. Knife. Fork. Napkins. And boom, I was in line, ready to go. Wait, slow down just a tad so as not to look too eager in front of potentially good-looking boys.
At last, some joyful Food Service worker would slap that patty on the bun, and I would be free to add condiments. Then the fries. Add colby jack cheese, and another slice just for me to eat, simply because it wasn't over-processed orange plastic like what they offered for sandwiches.
Then came the quick eye-sweep of your bro-sis table (the Moody phenomenon of seating arrangements that yielded a high quotient of flirtatious activity) to scope out your eating buddies, and then the seat choice. Choosing wisely, I would sit as closely to the center as possible. One by one, the seats filled in. Boys and girls taking lunch breaks from their classes would revel in the rare mid-day opportunity to converse.
Perhaps it was due to the difficulty of classes, perhaps it was the unique Moody "bubble," or maybe it's just that college students are weird-- whatever the reason, I found that mealtimes were rife with moments of hilarity. Witty things were said, ridiculous things were said, hermeneutical things were said. For those with a penchant for witty banter, this was their stage. Laughter, flirting, more laughter, done with food, back for an apple, play with leftovers, rip up napkins... an hour and three rounds of people later, they would begin to shut off the lights. A Food Service employee would stealthily spray disinfectant just far enough to not poison you, yet just close enough to make you want to leave.
If it was dinner, it would be even longer and include one or two food fights and more relaxed conversation, as there were no pending classes after the meal. And once the lights shut off and the spray bottle came out, there would be the inevitable and predictable trip to CPO to check for mail, and hopefully a love note. Laugh through the tunnels past the creepy exposed and yet strangely brightly painted pipes, almost run into people around the corner, do some tunnel shenanigans after another disappointing CPO run, and then say goodbye at the junction of the dorms. Up the elevator for a night of girly hilarity on the floor... with another day of the same ahead. I would smile.
Don't ask me why my favorite memories bring me back here. It's possibly the pseudo family this world created, the comforting routine, the joyful relationships... whatever it is, it is treasured in my memory-- the mealtime memories.