The Coen brothers, who also happened to have filmed a lively documentary of the Soggy Bottom Boys which they graciously allowed me to appear in, came out awhile back with a remake of the classic John Wayne picture “True Grit” which I’ve found quite moving, with Jeff Bridges and Hailey Steinfield delivering excellent performances. “Grit” being an appropriate word, as the story is hardly rainbows and dramatic rides into the sunset. Just like I like ’em.
I’ve seen the movie I think 3 times now, most recently on a camping trip with family. This last trip, one of the climactic end scenes struck me (If you haven’t watched the movie and are worried about spoilers, go get the darned thing and watch it).
A few years back, we bought some newly married friends a game called “Battle of the Sexes.” I think we played it twice with them, and I regretted ever buying it and playing it. Maybe some of y’all have heard of it and love it, but it’s about on the same level as Monopoly to me. I hate it. But it is instructive and sad in how it reveals how disconnected the genders often are. I don’t know if stereotypes are a cause or a result, or both, of this disconnect.
I’ve heard that generalizations, and their crazy uncle Stereotype, are useful as a kind of shorthand to quickly give a picture of an entity or group. It’s usually understood that there’s variation within the object of discussion. For instance, you might say that “The Republican Party is for _____”, with full knowledge that not everyone who is a registered Republican lines up just so, but that the Party is characterized by _____. We usually all understand that.
Here’s a question that’s been bugging me though. Just how useful are these generalizations relationally? Continue reading Battle of the Sexes?
What place does “authority” have in the life of the Christian? It’s a loaded question to me, and I’ll admit, in my low moments, I want to answer it by running screaming from the room shouting “IT SHALL NOT BE SO AMONG YOU!” over and over again with my ears plugged, but that’s not really helpful for dialogue. There is a place for authority in our Christian lives, though I believe it looks nothing like what I grew up with, and certainly doesn’t deserve the ears plugged screaming reaction all the time. I’d like to ramble about that for a few paragraphs.
Continue reading In Layman’s Terms….
Religious holidays have always been a strange place for me. My first church was decidedly not on board with any of them, except Thanksgiving and 4th of July (see what I did there), to some extent. Thanksgiving was a “Puritan” holiday, and we went all out in honor of it. Christmas was not celebrated, and Easter certainly wasn’t – both in their eyes claiming pagan origins, and we shouldn’t eat meat offered to idols, etc. I don’t really care to get into that – there’s good, godly folks on both sides of those lines, and that’s on your conscience before God which side or the other you fall on in that discussion.
For me, the issue goes a bit deeper, in that I feel very much disconnected to the spirit of these holidays, no matter their origins or practice.
Continue reading Easter, Apathy, and Empathy
Oh god, how can I even begin to describe what we felt pulling up? To us, it was HUGE, about, oh I don’t know, 500 members? (Side, it always makes me laugh when someone describes a church as small and says it has about 100 members: you don’t know small until you attend a 20-person church where your family is half the membership.) After the funeral-style dirges we were used to, the music was upbeat and fast-paced. There was a large choir, all hymns or southern-gospel style songs, the preaching was from the KJV. Everything reeked of tradition, but there were cushioned pews, carpeted floors, a nursery, Sunday school, and ohmygosh PEOPLE!! We made quite the entrance in our 15-passenger royal blue van and 9+ kids in odd fashions, and the members were drawn to us instantly. They were, and still are, an incredibly friendly bunch (to their own kind anyway). They made us feel welcome, wanted to find out about us, the young people actually tried to talk to us. It was, dare I say it, magical. We were…..appreciated!! Sought out!! Treated as if we were important and someone of worth!!! When you spend your entire life feeling marginalized and shut up, that feeling was like crack. I don’t think we visited anywhere else after that, but jumped right in. Except for my dad, who realized we would all have to be baptized in order to join. The pastor was fairly adamant about that.
So picture this, if you will. 9 children, ages ~6 to 23, all getting baptized, one after the other. Standing in a looooooong line at the front of the church, while all the members came by and congratulated you. Feeling very out-of-place in your bulky sweater that was two-sizes-too-big, a calf-length elasticized skirt with a floral print, chunky sandals, no jewelry or makeup or nice hair while all the girls your age are wearing modern clothes and heels and perfectly styled hair. JUST PICTURE IT. Then cry a little for 18-year old me who grew up in a bubble and was becoming painfully aware of just all the ways she did not measure up.
That was….May, I think. For a few months, I got to hear all about the church’s connected college. I then went to their youth camp in Tennessee, which….I kinda want to cry myself now.
I love puzzles.
Pretty much everyone who knows me is aware of that fact, I think. I can spend hours doing them, till my neck feels crooked and my feet have fallen asleep multiple times and I can no longer see straight.
Sometimes I branch out, and make a building.
Or maybe a whole new shape.
And that title isn’t quite applicable, actually. I am quite good at puzzles. Order out of chaos. One piece at a time.
I’ve always loved Coldplay’s song “Talk,” which says “Do you feel like a puzzle / You can’t find your missing piece?”
My life feels like a puzzle. But not because I’m missing a piece. Or the stereotypical, “You’re in the middle of putting together your puzzle of life and while it doesn’t look right just now, it will form a beautiful picture once it’s complete!” Complete with sunshine and rainbows and birds chirping.
No, more like….I put a puzzle together in the dark. Someone handed me pieces and said, “This piece goes here. This piece connects with that. What do you mean it doesn’t feel right, that’s how it is and don’t you dare question it.” Fine, this piece goes there. This is how that is. This is truth, because you said it was so. Continue reading “I never have been very good at puzzles….” Part 1.
My sister has given me permission to run her companion narrative to the story I wrote recently on my blog. While I felt somewhat like a bystander and observer in my own tale, hers is much more personal. Much more. It hurts to read, and, on my part, relive some of the incidents recorded. So, sometime soon I’m going to post her story. Continue reading Take Two
“Men are sombiches,” they say, and “darned women aint reasonable,” says others. But you ain’t lookin’ to marry “men”, or “women”, are ya. No, all you gotta do is really understand one.
This advice is Pappy Approved™.
Disclaimer: If it don’t work, due to the darned tricky nature of hitchin’ and courtin’, it entirely ain’t my fault.
Disdisclaimer: Jr is still hopeless.
Picture a rock, if you will. Now picture that rock deep inside a cave. Finally, in your mind’s eye, take a stroll out of the cave and see that the cave is under a mountain. Now, back to the rock. Underneath the rock lives a large family. They weren’t always destined to live in such seclusion. The parents came from fairly normal–perhaps one could say “worldly” in the non-religious sense–families. Perhaps an in-depth treatment of their stories would be an interesting study, but I’ll refrain, for brevity’s sake. I will just say that they met and were married in a small but vibrant Fundamentalist Baptist church, with strong Ruckmanite leanings, and highly separatist in nature. Into this small, small world, I and a large number of siblings were born and raised. They could probably tell stories of their own if they wished, but all in their time – I’ll stick to my own.
This is hardly a tale of heroics on my part, as should be apparent by the end. I share this to be an encouragement to the readers and show that God works even when we don’t know what we’re doing – “fumbling for a light switch in the dark”, to borrow a Mat Kearney lyric. My chosen part was often simply that of a spectator, a follower, a bystander. There’s no prescription here for life – I have no answers, no deep spiritual truths to give upon looking back at my experiences. Perhaps the readers can help with that. All I can see is God consistently bringing the right people into my life at the right times, to this day – from my wife, to two of my sisters, to a flawed but sincere SBC church, to a game forum admin, to a woman with a passion for seeing spiritual abuse become a thing of the past (two people I probably won’t get to in this story, amongst others). He works in mysterious ways to wake up His children. I’d love to dive into so many rabbit holes in this, but again, I’ll refrain, for the most part. So, onward. Continue reading Sheltered Life