Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

The pie was yummy.

A new family favorite: Chocolate Silk Pie, recipe from the Blue Bonnet Café in Marble Falls, TX.

Ummm. good.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Twilight Mania

Twilight series author, Stephanie Meyer, admitted she is “a little burned out on vampires right now.”

Actually, I was encouraged to hear Stephanie say that her first books were not well written. She wishes she could go back and make changes. For me, it felt like wading through adverbs, irksome.

More than 85 million copies of Twilight books have sold. The first movie grossed $385 million.

What has captivated people enough to incite another cultural phenomenon, a book-reading and movie-going maelstrom?

As the release of the second movie, New Moon, sets in motion another fan-crazed, media-covered blitz, well-meaning people will react like Don Quixote fighting windmills, censors and censorious.

That’s disconcerting. And it makes me sad. The way it embarrasses me to look back on church crusades against Barbie and Disney and Colgate, to name a few.

Freedom to think, to create and to discriminate represents a vital core of human values.

I read the books so I could evaluate for myself, as I did when reading all 7 Harry Potter books. I didn’t view any of these books as inherently evil, though reservations about role models abound. I don’t believe the devil made them do it, either the authors or characters.

My objection as I slogged through the 2000+ pages stemmed from the uneven, at times poor writing. “Ponderous prose,” as my English teacher friend once described a well-known author’s book. But popular fiction does not christen literary giants.

What got me to the last page of the saga despite wariness and weariness, I wanted to dialogue with my daughters, my eldest son and granddaughter about how and why the books, originally intended for Young Adults, intrigued each of them.

I confess. It was a good story.

Creative. Imaginative. Not entirely original, but certain portions shined, “like the top of the Chrysler Building.”

Despite mistakes, Stephanie Meyer held the story-strands together, from beginning to end, like a weaver using numerous shuttles, colorful threads and a complicated pattern.

A good editor should have caught where Bella fed her father pancakes for breakfast in one paragraph, and a few paragraphs later, she picked up his cereal bowl.

Portraying vampires as real, with certain sects of vampires as “good guys” as well as werewolves who keep the vampires in check, belongs in the realm of fantasy fiction. Keep it there, and you can deal with the story on its own terms.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Shame on You

Does shame still function as motivation for good behavior?

“If you can’t be a good example, you will just have to be a terrible warning.”

Mary Engelbreit illustrated that quote by picturing a little boy standing in the corner, the object of a discipline intended to produce shame.
Do parents or teachers today make disobedient kids stand in the corner? Do eyes of disapproval wield an invisible rod of correction? Does public reproof cause culprits to feel shame?

I don't think so.

In our culture, as in Jeremiah’s message to a hard-hearted Israel (6:15), people have forgotten how to blush.

Why should we? Tabloids portray celebrity as both wicked and enviable. Newspaper headlines proclaim the best and worst of times, a pocked landscape devoid of leaders who once inspired us.

Banks failing. Job losses. Wall Street piranhas devour the very companies that feed them. Investors get left holding an empty bag.

No longer is the threat from without­—bank robbers like Bonnie and Clyde or Jesse James or The Hole in the Wall Gang—but from scavengers within, people devoid of a sense of shame.

And in turn, we have learned to gauge our sins relative to our neighbors'.

“Well, I’m not that bad.”

With the increasing public exposure of skin and secrets––you could get on Oprah––shame hangs in the closet like an old garment, unworn for decades. No Scarlet Letters, thank God, but who wants to look out of style?

Still, can a person be made to feel ashamed?

My fourth-grade teacher, Miss Claussen, taught me a lesson about shame.

When another girl in my class and I fought on the playground, Miss Claussen forced us to face one another, the heavy classroom door with its plate-glass window between us.

“Stand nose-to-nose until one of you apologizes.”

The stiff-necked me—heels dug in to resist both Miss Claussen and my enemy—self-righteousness clung like a scent, my fierce attitude more apparent than the clothes I wore that day. I was prepared to watch the sun go down.

Until she spoke these words: “The bigger person will apologize first.”

I fell over my feet to get around the door to surrender to my enemy. Capitulating, deflating like a balloon, I could hardly get the words out fast enough.

“I'm sorry. Will you forgive me?”

Pride had motivated me to humble myself.

On the long walk home, I remember feeling ashamed.