October 24, 2012

Here are some pictures from a wonderful weekend with Christian’s mom and step-dad.

We took them to the Getty, the Griffith Observatory (where I saw a girl wearing the most beautiful pants ever made…don’t worry, I took a picture), Mission San Juan Capistrano, and Laguna Beach.

For our favorite shots (and some actual faces of real people, unlike mine below), we made a contraption out of 2 disposable cameras that will hopefully yield some awesome 3-D pictures … we just have to finish off the cameras and do some photoshop magic.



October 18, 2012

Yesterday I went to Biola’s annual Bible conference all day, and today I am recovering by staying home all day 🙂 (or at least until Christian’s mom and step dad get here…woo hoo!!)

The conference, like many chapels I have gone to lately, has left me frustrated and hurt. The main speaker had a lot of good to offer, but was also (predictably) dismissive towards a lot of things that I (and many of my peers) really care about…things like church tradition, history, liturgical worship, etc. There is a lot to say about how harmful flippancy can be (I’m not nearly the first to be hurt by it at Biola…issues of race and sexuality come to mind), and it’s hard to know how to combat it (the common method seems be angry tweets…).

The thing is, I love the Biola I know on a personal level. I have never had an interaction with a teacher where I felt he or she was being flippant or disrespectful towards another tradition, or even another worldview. My teachers all have strong, clear opinions, but they express them with humility. One of the biggest lessons they have taught me over the past four years is that the world is complex, and I know less than I think I do about it (I am still learning this one   :)).

That’s why this conference, and many chapels this year, have been hard to sit through, and hard to process. I am so excited about the people that make up Biola, and the classes offered here, but discouraged by many of the messages I hear in large-group settings. I bet this is a pretty common feeling…I wonder what the best response is?

I also think a big part of my slump yesterday was loneliness, since a lot of my friends (friends who I would talk to about the conference sessions) have either graduated or are in their last semester, which means no mandatory chapel/conferences.

Sidenote: I ended the night with a tennis match against my friend Becca, and I have to say, I THINK I EXPERIENCED ENDORPHINS. I went into the match feeling so grumpy and tired, and I left feeling so bouncy and smiley and thinking “So THIS is what people have been talking about all this time!” (I think I have had one or two other times like this, but I always forget it’s a real possibility.)

October 13, 2012

Together we notice not only each mountain shadow and each stone on the beach but we notice each other’s beautiful faces and complex natures so that Creation need not play to an empty house.” – Annie Dillard

This week has been long and good.

On Tuesday, Christian found out he got the job as the Biola English Department Assistant Secretary (!!) so we had Thai food to celebrate. Also, we came up with the perfect Halloween costume, which I cannot share yet.

On Wednesday, I went to see two bands play at a bar in Santa Monica (one band happened to be made up of some of my good friends and the other one was a band Christian plays guitar for). There is something very special about seeing friends play great music that they wrote themselves. Also, a few of us listened to this week’s horrifying episode of This American Life on the car ride there (hint=shark attack) and had some time to walk along the pier and think about sharks and mortality before the show started. (Unfortunately, I had the song “Santa Monica” by Savage Garden stuck in my head during this time…).

On Thursday, I went to women’s group at my church for the first time, and it was overwhelming and great. Overwhelming because the book we are working through is Revelations of Divine Love by Julian of Norwich…believed to be the first book written in English by a woman, ever. Great because we ate and laughed and also talked about things like silence and art (two of the women are professional artists, and they talk about art so beautifully) and Annie Dillard (specifically, the quote above), which made Julian of Norwich’s words easier for me to grasp.

And today, Friday, I bought tickets to see Sufjan Stevens!! December 4th, and I will be wearing a reindeer antler headband (it is a Christmas singalong, and I figure dressing festively will make up for my lack of singing alonging).

Also, the weather is starting to match the month.


October 8, 2012

This weekend Christian and I were both feeling a little homesick for the Midwest, and a little grumpy towards Southern California. So, we went to the town of Orange…the only place within a hundred miles of LA that remotely resembles home.

You can’t really tell from my pictures, but once you cross this one set of train tracks near the border of Orange, everything changes. The store fronts are old, with chipped paint and swooping fonts. There are American flags, sidewalk quartets, and even banners inviting townspeople to a “prayer breakfast” hosted by the mayor. Everyone is a little bit less skinny, and a little bit less gorgeous. It is seriously magical.

We went into a few antique stores, an old-fashioned soda shop, a Native American craft store (where I purchased some over-priced macaw feathers), a record store, a tiny cafe (where Christian applied the “just add salt to your sweets for instant class” principle to our toasted almost gelato…), AND a diner where a scene from That Thing You Do was filmed.

Hooray for small adventures, and more to come. (Including, this month: seeing Christian play with his new band [their show is Wednesday!!], my old roommate Tracy visiting from NYC, Biola’s annual Torrey Conference, Christian’s mom and step-dad visiting from Arkansas, and a Halloween party at my new house [I wonder if the pumpkin tree will last until then? It would make a great conversation-starter.]).







(fitting only because this post has the word rock in the title.)

This week for Creative Non-fiction we read a piece by John Jeremiah Sullivan’s “Upon This Rock,” about an (agnostic) reporter’s experience attending the Christian rock festival Creation. I actually read it when it was published in GQ last year (how sophisticated and male of me, I know), but this time I read the version that came out in his 2012 book, Pulphead.

The piece is hilarious and frustrating and heart wrenching and humbling and so honest. As someone whose prayer is always “I believe, help my unbelief,” I felt tied to both John Jeremiah Sullivan (with a name like that, what God-fearing Christian wouldn’t?) and his Jesus-freak buddies.

I don’t usually like to use this space to just regurgitate things, but rules are made to be broken, right? (Really, I have always hated that phrase. Rules are rules, people.) So here is one beautiful section of the essay, a few too many paragraphs to be called a “quote,” because I couldn’t bear to cut any more out.

“At least once a year since college, I’ll be getting to know someone, and it comes out that we have in common a high school “Jesus phase.” That’s always an excellent laugh. Except a phase is supposed to end–or at least give way to other phases–not simply expand into a long preoccupation.

My problem is not that I dream I’m in hell. It isn’t that I feel psychologically harmed. It isn’t that I feel like a sucker for having bought it all.  It’s that I love Jesus Christ.

Not in what conquers, not in glory, but in what’s fragile and what suffers–there lies sanity. And salvation. “Let anyone who has power renounce it,” he said. “Your father is compassionate to all, as you should be.” That’s how He talked, to those who know Him.

Why should He vex a person? Why is His ghost not friendlier? Why can’t I just be a good child of the Enlightenment and see in His life a sustaining example of what we can be, as a species?

Once you’ve known Him as a god, it’s hard to find comfort in the man. The sheer sensation of life that comes with a total, all-pervading notion of being–the pulse of consequence one projects onto even the humblest things–the pull that won’t slacken.

And one has doubts about one’s doubts.”

A troubled joy

October 1, 2012

This weekend, I spent some time with friends staring at the big bright moon we have had for the past few nights, and reading Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short stories. He is so eerie and beautiful and disturbing…very much like fall, I think. (As far as Torrey texts go this semester, I think Emerson is spring, Hawthorne is fall, Henry James is summer, and maybe Melville is winter?)

I think I’ll write my big paper on Hawthorne this semester, mostly because I want to spend more than a week with his stories. This morning I read “The Maypole of Merry Mount” (one of his less-read ones I think), and loved it. Here’s my favorite part, after a young couple have just said their wedding vows:

“No sooner had their hearts glowed with real passion, than they were sensible of something vague and unsubstantial in their former pleasures, and felt a dreary presentment of inevitable change. From the moment that they truly loved, they had subjected themselves to earth’s doom of care and sorrow, and troubled joy, and had no more a home at Merry Mount.”

Maybe it’s my favorite because I love paradoxes so much, and I think this one is probably true.

my favorite purchase of the weekend: a pumpkin tree. I read up on it a little when I got home and it turns out the little “pumpkins” are actually a type of eggplant! I think they are darling, and I can’t stop staring at them.