Posted in commentary, Yahweh's fingerprints

TEARS AND PRAYERS FOR HAITI

I haven’t commented much on the tragedy that exploded onto the airwaves reporting a major earthquake on the island of Haiti that has killed thousands. To be quite honest, I get overwhelmed when tragedy of this enormity strikes. As someone who stood next to my brother’s bedside as he slipped away in death, I know the weight of tremendous and inexpressible grief. To multiply that by 100,000… I just can’t wrap my brain around that.

Entire families are just…gone. People all over the world are sitting by the phone and are scanning the internet trying to ascertain the wellbeing of loved ones. Relief is pouring in from all over the world, but the pain is still a sinkhole that seems to keep growing for those who remain or who have been left behind.

From all these years learning to see inside myself, I have learned to see outside myself. I could, like many, choose to just pretend this tragedy didn’t happen, go on with my life, head in the sand. In the past several years, however, my worldview has changed. I have friends from all over the world and I have friends serving God all over the world. I also journey with a community called Ecclesia, a richly creative and unique garden that has helped me grow in ways I don’t think I would journeying anywhere else. I am often challenged to think beyond my own borders and outside the box, and from those challenges, inspired to take action (in whatever form is appropriate at the time).

I just viewed some heartbreaking photos of people who lost their lives, most crushed by buildings or dying in the aftermath. It’s been awful to see how some people have reacted, especially people like Pat Robertson, who have once again thrust their most un-Christlike thoughts into the media in the name of Jesus. People like Pat, who rise up in the midst of devastation to declare God has judged this devastated country and it’s hurting people with this earthquake are one of the reasons I often refer to myself as a recovering Evangelical if I have to label myself as anything other than a broken Christ-follower or Sassy beloved of God.

I have struggled to try to find a nice way of telling the world that Pat Robertson does not represent the mind of Christ in this matter nor does he represent me, broken Christ-follower, Sassy beloved of God. Fortunately, I read this blog by author Donald Miller who articulated exactly how I felt without me having to give Mr. Robertson’s misguided words any more of my creative energy.

One thing I would add, though, is that perhaps Mr. Robertson needs to forget any fancy seminary training he may have had and learn how all this really works:

‘Love the Eternal One your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is nearly as important, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22: 37-39 (The Voice)

As a friend once told me, if you get these two directives down, the rest just falls into place. While I witness the outpouring of love in Haiti, I can see that there are people out there who really do get it, no seminary degree or formal spiritual training necessary.

I can’t be there in person, brothers and sisters in Haiti, but the action I can engage in this moment is prayer, which I know really does work beyond the realm of my understanding.

I’m so thankful Pat Robertson doesn’t know me and had no words to offer me when my heart was breaking and I was overwhelmed with grief and the world didn’t make sense any more. I am thankful for the reminder, though, Pat, that if my first thought in the face of tragedy isn’t love or compassion or mercy, perhaps it’s better if I just shut up instead.

Posted in commentary, politics

PRESIDENT OBAMA

I don’t think I will ever forget this day.

As I sat and watched our 44th president being sworn in this morning, I couldn’t hold back the tears. The day was laced with historical moments, including being sworn in with the same Bible as Abraham Lincoln.

I watched as Obama took the oath of office and the country (most of it) rejoiced. I don’t know what will happen in the next four years, but my hope is that this new direction will be a good, productive one.

One thing I did hear broadcast today resonated with me. A woman who was attending the inauguration with her daughters said that she talked to her daughters about why today was so important, why the election of someone who represents a different ethnicity than the previous 43 presidents was historical and significant. Her hope is that when her daughters have daughters of their own and they recall their memories of this day and explain why this day was laden with historical significance, that her granddaughters will wonder why having an African-American president is a big deal.

My heart echoes that hope and I look forward to the day when we’re all just Americans no matter what our skin color or heritage is. May that day come sooner than later.

Posted in commentary, politics, pop culture

A HISTORICAL DAY, INDEED


When I was 19, I stood at the crypt of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and wondered if his dream would ever come true. Growing up in the midwest in a county that is still, as of the last census, 98% white, I was, up until that moment, unaware of the importance of Dr. King’s dream.

Walking the halls of The King Center, I saw the images and heard the speeches of a man who gave his life to the cause, the dream, that people someday would be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin… which is a big leap for someone who grew up where nearly every person I knew or met was the same shade of white. I was overwhelmed, to put it mildly, to think I was part of Dr. King’s dream and spent the next few years endeavoring to understand why the dream was important to me.

I remember thinking, all those years ago, that I would never see a non-white President in my lifetime. Never. I’d seen too much injustice, heard people use racial epithets about people they didn’t know, just because their skin was a different color. I could never understand why people would choose to act that way, but they did… many because they learned to act that way at home or in their group of friends, and the hate and ignorance was passed down as easily and earnestly at times as someone passes on their faith.

I’ve been guilty of prejudice and it happens from both sides of the fence. Maybe my prejudices aren’t color-coded, but I still struggle with seeing everybody from every walk of life on the same playing field, let alone wearing the same uniform. At least I have come to the point in my life where I am willing to acknowledge my weaknesses and seek knowledge so I can be informed and make changes inside myself so I am part of the solution and not the problem.

When I heard Barack Obama announced as the President-Elect of the United States, I was so overwhelmed with emotion, I cried. I watched as a crowd of thousands of people of all shades, shapes, and sizes cheered and wept together.

Regardless of political affiliations, I hope people can look back one day and see the significance of Tuesday night. I can pinpoint moments in my life where I remember where I was in crisp detail when history was made. The Challenger Explosion. The fall of the Berlin Wall. So many more.

Now I can add Tuesday night to the list, the night a giant leap was taken toward making the dream of unity come true.

Posted in commentary, Harry Potter, Yahweh's fingerprints

HAVE BRAIN, WILL THINK…

Over a decade ago, I attended a church where the pastor said this from the pulpit (loosely paraphrased from memory): “See this book in my hand?” he nearly shouted, “it’s the Word of God. Don’t question me… my interpretation of this book. It’s my job to tell you what this book says. You don’t need to read it yourself.”

I remember the train wreck in my head. I wanted to stand and shout, “NO!” remembering that every man works out his own salvation with fear and trembling, and having the feeling that if he broke out the kool-aid after service I should hit him with my Bible and run for the exit as fast as I could.

Everything that man said in his sermon, by the way, I completely disagreed with. I was essentially shunned later for saying (out loud) that what he had preached was not in The Book, and his edict of keeping Bible interpretation to himself and the hope of keeping his young flock scripturally ignorant so they wouldn’t see what a unbiblical power trip he was on was completely wrong.

Before I left, I encouraged everyone I could to read the Bible for themselves…to make up their own minds…to use their brains and not become mindless sheep. I have no idea what happened to most of those congregants, but I do know that those of us raised in the church with a good handle on our theology left and didn’t look back.

I guess how I was raised and then my experience with the arrogant Bible-thumping, “hear me, don’t read,” pastor has left me often questioning what I hear from the pulpit and beyond. I was not allowed an opinion or to think freely as a kid and that Sunday epiphany showed me how dangerous that mindset really is.

Why are so many Christians willing to hand over their brains at the chapel doors and willingly digest and accept every word that a human being says from the pulpit (or the pages, or the internet)? Why carry the Bible to church if it’s not going to be read at home? Studied? Most of us feel a certain comfort with our pastors, and know, deep down, they’re not going to lead us astray. Right?

For the most part when hear a sermon, I find that the pastor and I are on the same page and I don’t have to worry what’s in the coffee served after the service. Still, beyond the creeds and doctrines, sometimes I hear things spoken (from many pulpits) that make me wonder, “really? Why?” or “Why not?”

When I was a kid, I was told not to read certain books. You know the list. Catcher in the Rye was always at the top. Today, you will most likely find the Harry Potter series on many conservative lists. I used to play along. Not read what I wasn’t supposed to, tow the line, say the right things…and have no idea how to join in the conversation except to say, “I have heard it’s wrong/bad/forbidden… banned.”

These days, tell me not to read something or tell me it’s controversial and I’m more likely to at least research the book (movie, article, author) if not read the book itself. Make up my own mind. Think. Process. Decide.

I may yet agree the banned or controversial material is indeed not fit for public consumption. Or… I may say, “I agree,” or “he has some valid points,” or “why not?” In some circles, that heresy could get me crucified. Outside the box is a scary place apparently and lately I seem to find myself outside of the box or fighting to get out of it.

When did having a brain get so dangerous? When did thinking outside the box become so taboo? Why not give people credit for having the brains and discernment to decide for themselves whether or not someone’s words or ideas are something to absorb or adhere to, or to dismiss? Are today’s Christians that theologically lacking that the thought of encouraging them to educate themselves about the “other side” or “grey area” of a conversation is out of the question?

I don’t know what the answer is or where this rant came from. I guess I’m just tired of hearing “but I’ve heard it’s bad,” or people believing something “because so and so said so.” If the thought process ends there, it’s dangerous.

I don’t know why I feel like apologizing for not giving so and so the power to think for me. I may agree with so and so at some point, but it will be because I informed myself, sought God myself, used my brain, and made a decision… or I may not agree with so and so… and it’s okay. It really, really is.

There will be no bra burning at the end of this post, but sadly I feel sort of revolutionary in my thinking right now.

But at least I’m thinking… with my own brain.

Posted in commentary, pop culture

AS THE JAIL KEYS TURN…

Over the past few days, the world has been transfixed on the plight of Paris Hilton, 26 year old heiress to the Hilton Hotels fortune. In a week’s time, she’s been in jail, out of jail, and then got dragged kicking and screaming back to jail. If you don’t pay attention to such matters, go to Google News and type in Paris Hilton and you will see what I mean.

Yes, I found myself outraged when Paris was released after serving three days of a 45 day sentence (that was shortened already to 23 days). The woman has the best lawyers money can buy, the best of everything, she is used to getting her own way and used to escaping the consequences of her actions. Those sort of people put me on edge. I deal with the consequences of my actions every day and if I had to depend on my money and status to get me out of trouble, I’d be hosed.

When I read how outraged the judge was over her early flight from jail, I knew she’d have to go back. His sentence was a clear message to Paris Hilton and other socialites like her: You had your freebie (getting caught driving on a suspended license) and then you did it again so now you must face the consequences of your actions so hopefully you won’t do this again and taken someone else down with you. When Paris was released to serve the rest of her sentence in the luxury of her mansion, I knew the backlash was coming. You can’t leave your house, but the world can and will come to you… like that was going to go over well.

I don’t want to get into the legal jargon or a discussion of who’s right or who’s wrong as far as Paris’ release and subsequent return to jail is concerned, but obviously, it’s touched a nerve. All week long, the media has been full of coverage of this crazy, mixed up Hollywood circus.

I must say, though, that I felt some pity for Ms. Hilton as she cried hysterically in the back of the police car that was hauling her back to jail. I can’t imagine what it’s like having to go to jail, much less do it in such a public and humiliating way. I do hope she learns her lesson and she emerges from this time in her life a changed woman who has found a new purpose for her life. But I digress…

All week, I tried hard not to pay attention to all the hoopla, but I found myself keeping up with it a little anyway. I’m sure Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan were thrilled to have a good portion of the spotlight taken off them for a while, even if it will probably be brief. There are countless other celebrities who will take Paris’ place in the spotlight at any moment now.

I wonder if people realize there were other events unfolding the world this week besides a socialite being sent to jail to serve time for breaking the law. Did anyone notice there was more violence in Iraq…or that many children in Africa were orphaned today because of AIDS (and are every day)? Did anyone notice our world leaders met at the G8 Summit, or that our president met with the Pope, the Shuttle Atlantis is in orbit again, and many parts of our country are dealing with a severe drought? Is anybody concerned that 5.7 million pounds of beef was recalled because of E Coli? In other news… the immigration bill was defeated and by the end of the month the bald eagle will no longer be an endangered species.

I could go on, but I won’t. A lot happened in the world that was by far and away more important than Paris Hilton’s incarceration, release, and incarceration. The media frenzy surrounding Ms. Hilton reminded me this week that I need to focus on the things that are really important and actually have a bearing on my life. Sure, making sure celebrites and regular Joes are treated the same by the judicial system has its place, but there are only so many hours in the day and so much else is going on.

Besides, I’ll be in California this time next week. Maybe we’ll take a road trip to Hollywood… not.

Posted in commentary, pet peeves

PET PEEVE OF THE MONTH: CAR ALARMS

I’m starting a new feature on my blog. Pet Peeve of the Month. I have many pet peeves, though, so this could become a weekly feature. We’ll see.

At first, I couldn’t decide between car stereo subwoofers (maybe this will be Pet Peeve Weekend) or car alarms, because both often jolt me from peaceful slumber, or prevent me falling into peaceful slumber, depending on the time of day. The deciding factor was the fact that it’s trash day and the garbage truck always sets off someone’s sensitively set car alarm.

I don’t remember when the first car alarm was made, but you can read about them here. I can understand a person’s desire to protect their property, but after a couple of decades of beep…beep…beep… woo-ooh, woo-ooh, woo-ooh…screech, screech, screech… are car alarms really effective anymore? Are they a theft deterrent? After counting the seconds or minutes it takes someone to shut off their car alarms when they’ve been triggered, I figure a thief could get in the car and drive away before the owner even discovered it was the real deal. Car alarms are set off by thunder, subwoofers, the garbage truck, or kids playing soccer in the street. It wouldn’t be so bad if alarms were set to go off if someone actually touches the car, but that would be wishful thinking.

We have a neighbor who likes to drive into the complex all hours of the night with the subwoofer cranked and his/her car sets off many car alarms. Maybe he does this for fun. Who knows?

I remember one stormy evening, a neighbor’s car alarm went off with every peal of thunder. After the alarm had gone off five times, one would think Mr. Neighbor would shut the alarm off until the storm passed. No. Not a chance.

Years ago, before Jene’ and I were roommates, she was taken hostage by someone’s car alarm. One weekend someone’s car alarm went off for over a full day until the battery died. The police couldn’t do anything about it because it was legally parked. Jene’ said there were many notes on this guy’s windshield by the time he got back. I should hope so.

Again, I understand the desire to protect personal property, but I don’t think the car alarm is the answer. I personally don’t have a car new enough or fancy enough to have a car alarm, and I haven’t missed it. Granted, if my car were to ever be stolen, I’d be greatly upset, but honestly, if my car alarm went off, what exactly could I do about it?

The car alarm no longer frightens thieves away (if it ever did). Cars now have anti-theft devices and tracking systems. My friend recently had her car stolen (don’t know if it had an alarm or not) but the thief kindly drove back past her house while the crime scene crew was still there. See? Thieves will actually do you a favor and bring the car back to the neighborhood for you.

I don’t think an alarm is a deterrent any more. I think a car alarm is an annoyance that gives car owners a false sense of security. Truthfully, how many people actually run to their windows or out their door to see if their car is indeed being stolen? Most of the time people are frantically searching for their keys so they can turn their alarm off before the neighbors complain or they yawn and pad over to the window and click their alarm off.

A car alarm may deter a teenager trying to steal a car for a joyride, but anyone seasoned in the art of grand theft wouldn’t bat an eyelash. He’d just steal your car and wake up all your neighbors.

Talk back. Car alarms – good or evil?

Posted in commentary

THE FACE OF EVIL

For the last few days, news web pages, blogs, and everything in between, has been plastered with pictures of Seung-Hui Cho, the college student who murdered 32 of his classmates on Monday.

The media coverage of this tragedy is hardly a surprise. As human beings, we can’t help ourselves. Our curiosity must be abated. I’ve sat in front of the tv for hours watching news coverage of such events over the course of my life – the assination attempt on Ronald Reagan, the Challenger disaster, the Oklahoma City bombing, the events as they unfolded on 9-11, the water as it rose in Houston during Tropical Storm Allison, desperate people waiting on the tops of their homes in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and many more. I couldn’t tear myself away from the tv as I watched these riveting events unfold.

On September 11, and during Tropical Storm Allison, Jene’ often told me to turn off the tv (during 9-11, most channels carried the coverage and there wasn’t much else to watch) or to turn the channel. I would get so wrapped up in what was going on on tv that I began to feel stressed out over it.

Media coverage gives us the “next best thing” to being there. We are in the victim’s families’ faces, right behind the microphone. We are on campus, at the foot of the towers, in Mission Control… and we’re there over and over and over again.

Monday, I checked a news website while I was waiting for my lunch to heat up and the headlines brought tears to my eyes. At the time, it was 20 students believed dead on the campus of Virginia Tech. Later, it was revealed that 32 bright, vibrant people lost their lives.

What we were shown over the next two days was the face of Seung-Hui Cho, the murder, who unfortunately left behind film footage – more proof – of his insanity. We were subjected to this tape over and over again, hearing his hatred, his diatribe. Meanwhile, the 32 victims and those who survived were sidebars.

Even if Cho had not made the now infamous tape, we still would have had to look at his face splashed across the front pages of newspapers the world over. By Wednesday morning, I couldn’t turn on the news or check major newspapers’ sites because I couldn’t look at the face of evil any longer. When I stared into that man’s eyes, it made me shiver. I can’t imagine what having to see that picture did to the families and friends of the 32 lost.

I had to stop reading and watching the news because all they wanted to show was the gunman and his tape. By Wednesday noon, however, the media finally heard the outraged cries of thousands of people from all over the world who were outraged that Cho’s tape was given the light of day and they finally backed off and took his picture off their front pages and stopped broadcasting his hateful dialogue.

I understand that a journalist feels the need to share every detail of such a story with the public, but why not post a transcript of the tape rather than show it ad nauseum? His hateful diatribe was broadcast for all to hear, broadcast where others who are on the same troubled frequency as Cho would gain inspiration. No one disputed Cho’s claim of martyrdom (by the way, martyr’s DIE for the cause, they don’t KILL for the cause), but played his tape over and over until we are well aware of what was on his mind.

But what about those 32 lights he snuffed out? What about the man who survived hatred during the holocaust only to be gunned down later? The young man who stood between a girl and a gunman? Their hopes? Their dreams? The thing that disturbs me most about the media coverage is that the evil was the main event – at least that’s what their coverage showed. Finally, days later, we are seeing glimpses of what the world lost on Monday. I think the stories of the 32 are more important than the 1.

So many dreams were shattered Monday. I don’t know how people who have been put through something like that regroup and move on. Their lives have been forever altered.

Ten years from now, people will gather to remember the 32 who lost their lives. Unfortunately, unless the media changes the way they handle their reporting, we will hear a brief blip about remembering what was lost, and we’ll get an eyeful and an earful of the face of evil once again, prominently displayed.

Posted in commentary, movies, pop culture

WEIGHING IN ON DAVINCI

Even with all the hype surrounding the book The DaVinci Code, the movie came and went with a yawn (though it was a very lucrative yawn). The controversy generated that brought the pre-movie hype to a fever pitch seemed to fade away overnight. Truth be told, I was over-saturated by the controversy, the hype and all the books that sought to “break the code,” or “debunk the code,” (and books like that are still coming out) so I still have had no desire to see the movie yet.

Therefore, unlike the woman who has never read a Harry Potter book but wants them banned from her kids’ public school library because she believes they are evil (HP Controversy), I will not comment on something I haven’t seen and therefore do not have firsthand knowledge of. This review of sorts will make no references to The DaVinci Code the movie.

I did, however, finally read Dan Brown’s best-selling novel, The DaVinci Code. About a week ago, I was in Wal-Mart at about midnight after babysitting to pick up some household items and saw the mass market paperback edition in the checkout line available for less than $5. My curiosity got the best of me and I had wanted to read it (otherwise, how could I give an informed opinion on it?), so I purchased it.

I can see why The DaVinci Code has sold over 40 million copies. It’s a very well-written work of fiction and I read it as such. I read it in about three days. It was very difficult to put the book down even as my eyes drooped from tiredness at the end of the day. The DaVinci Code is a page turner in every way. Action. Intrigue. Mystery. An intellectual thriller. Many of my friends who have read the book have commented on how the book draws you in, holds your interest, and doesn’t let go until the very end. Though I found it somewhat predictable, it was still a great read.

Now for the controversy part. Did I mention that The DaVinci Code is sold in the fiction section in bookstores and is also catalogued as such? Yet many in the Christian community feel the Gospel is threatened or that people are being led astray by this work of fiction. Why?

I have searched the book’s prologue thoroughly and I still don’t see the phrase(s) in which many Christian commentators have asserted that this is where Dan Brown says that this fiction book is true, especially the parts about Jesus Christ. Misquotes have abounded and fanned the flames of controversy surrounding this book.

Author Dan Brown merely states in his prologue that the two historical Christian groups mentioned in the book are real (the Priory of Sion and Opus Dei) and the “descriptions of the art, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate.” That’s it.

Many people did not read the book and freaked out over their trusted Christian commentators’ assertions that what Dan Brown has said about the deity and life of Christ described in his book are true. Hence the umpteen books published on breaking and debunking the code that flooded the market from the time the book was first released until this very moment.

What gets me, really, about The DaVinci Code controversy is that many in the Christian community have gotten up in arms about how the life of Christ is portrayed (and do I need to say it again?) in this fiction book. Granted, what is said in The DaVinci Code about Christ goes directly against what the Bible says and what has been believed for centuries. But again, The DaVinci Code is fiction, right? Can one fiction book take on the Bible?

If, as a Christian, you believe in the inerrant word of God, then how can one little fiction book (or movie) change your mind about what you believe? What, as a Christian culture, are you so afraid of? If, as a Christian, you believe that the word of God is the truth and is the same yesterday, today and forever, do you really think Dan Brown and his 40 million copies of fiction can change that?

No. And yet the books and pamphlets abound.

Giving your neighbor a book or pamphlet (that he didn’t ask for by the way) about how awful The DaVinci Code paints the church is only going to make him wonder what you’re afraid of… because your neighbor knows The DaVinci Code is fiction. If he reads the pamphlet, he wonders why his eternal soul is in question because this book has been published. He wonders why people are protesting this work of fiction when there are children starving in Africa, or even down the street. People are more impressed by words more than actions anyway (“I was hungry and you fed me,” vs. “I was hungry and you preached at me,” but that’s another topic all together).

What is the Christian community really afraid of? Well, from what I’ve seen (and read), it’s ignorance of the word of God within their own ranks. Most Christians are ill equipped to handle The DaVinci Code, because they do not know the Bible well enough to tell fact from fiction and they are afraid that their “less educated” non-Christian friends/neighbors know even less and might believe The DaVinci Code might actually be more truth than fiction.

The book’s controversy really does cast a light on a very sensitive area within the church. Many Christians attend services, but fewer read and study the Bible. They depend on the man behind the pulpit to teach them all they need to know, and quite frankly, that is much more frightening to me than the insinuations made The DaVinci Code.

Posted in commentary

I’D RATHER WAX POETIC

…or nostalgic, or anything else but my legs.

When I get in these moods to do girlie things, I should get a clue when the Roomie gets that sly grin on her face that perhaps some things are beyond my pain tolerance.

Take waxing for instance. Sugaring, rather, which is supposed to aggrevate the skin less than waxing because there is no heat involved. Right.

I have one question.

WHY DO WOMEN DO THIS TO THEMSELVES?!

I am doing this correctly, yet I have a bruise on my thigh. The Roomie, after laughter subsided, provided me with some liquid vitamin K to relieve the irritation on my eyebrows — the part people will actually see tomorrow. Geez.

Of course, I stopped, because the rest of the hair isn’t long enough. Apparently you have to be as hairy as Mr. Snuffalufagus in order to have this particular method of hair removal work.

If this doesn’t work on Saturday, I’m going back to shaving.

Posted in commentary

AN UPDATE! (FINALLY)

So much has transpired in the last month, the least of which was a 7 day virus that knocked me flat on my back and I was sick during Easter. It’s what’s being called, “The Viral Thing,” that basically disguises itself as a sinus infection but really grabs you and won’t let you go. I actually took two sick days (and there was a Good Friday holiday in there as well) off to recover. I haven’t been that sick in YEARS. I also lost my voice, which, if part of your livelihood depends on your voice… well, what’s the point of going to work?

The doctor and I decided it’s also time for me to go an allergist, which means I can’t have any allergy related medications for six weeks. As a result, I’m more sluggish than usual, I’m having trouble sleeping, and concentrating is difficult, so I haven’t been writing much.

That’s not to say I don’t have anything to say…

I’ll break it down by topic.


POPE JOHN PAUL II

I remember when this Pope was chosen. I have admired his pro-life stances and his love of young people. He led the Catholic church to remain conservative when nearly every other denomination in the world is patting themselves on the back for their worldly-acceptable more-liberal, pc tolerant leanings. In some cases, remnants of conservatives in certain denominations are wrestling with their liberal leadership lest they wake up in a few years and not recognize themselves, but the Catholic church has not wavered from its basic doctrines in decades.

Though I am not Catholic, I was deeply saddened by John Paul II’s failing health and ultimately by his passing. He will be a tough act to follow. The following quote shows how deeply and truly devoted to Christ he was.

“It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness; he is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; he is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is he who provokes you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is he who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is he who reads in your hearts your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle. It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be grounded down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal.”
Pope John Paul II

THE ROYAL WEDDING
Yes, I have to comment on this. I got up early and watched the coverage on Fox News. American commentators really don’t have a clue how to cover anything royally British. Unfortunately, BBC America did not cover the wedding until they televised a condensed program later that day. I enjoyed BBC’s coverage because one, they understand the importance of hats at an afternoon wedding, and two, they actually knew what Camilla had stuck in her hair in lieu of a veil. BBC also know that Mr. Bean is really Rowan Atkinson and they had a better handle of the Who’s Who list of celebrities beyond Kenneth Branagh. BBC also understood the significance of the blessing, and left out a good chunk of sensational stories about the royals that Fox News just couldn’t seem to live without. I still love Fox News, but not for royal wedding coverage.

Personally, I was pleasantly surprised that Charles and Camilla confessed their sins at their wedding. The service was straight from the Book of Common Prayer, and if I’d been awake enough, I’d have tried to follow along. Alas, I was tired and I was fighting off sleep as it was.

I am not going to compare either of Charles’ weddings to each other. There was no comparison and I know that was on purpose. He is starting a new life now, whether we agree how he went about it or not. I personally am not happy with the Church bending it’s rules for the royals, but I’m hoping it means that one day that Charles will be leapfrogged by William for the throne… if William can hold up his end of the bargain.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON LENT
I gave up negative talk and thoughts for Lent and it really has made a visible change in me. That’s what Lent is for, though, to examine your life and make significant sacrifices and changes to draw closer to God and then, after that 40 day intensive treatment, take those changes into the rest of your life. I have always struggled with negativity (an environmental hazard of growing up in my house) and it’s actually made me a bit quieter than usual (ha ha) because if what I would say would be negative, I just didn’t say it. Tough, but doable.

Because I was ill, I did not get to go to any Easter Week services, and I had hoped to participate in the Stations of the Cross. I hope to next year. Lent made a change in me and I hope to continue it throughout the rest of my life.

TERRI SCHIAVO
I really have no words for how the whole situation ended other than it all felt so very, very wrong.

MISCELLANEOUS NEWS
Things are shifting around at work, but in my favor. I will now be three days in one department, all in a row. I will only be on the phones one day a week, which will give my voice a much needed rest during all this allergy mess, and quite frankly, after six years of answering the phone, I’m ready to cut back a bit.

So, that wraps up my big update… I’m sure I’ve left several things out… but these are some of the most important.