Sunday, December 27, 2009

Has de-Emphasizing Religion Gone too Far?

*This is basically a response to the following article, posted on Facebook by a friend of mine.

As the pendulum swings from a super-conservative approach to a more liberal approach to religion, are we losing something important that God has to say to us? Some of us went to Adventist schools and had certain rules imposed on us that were restricting and uncomfortable. Some of them seem to have no relation to our relationship to God, yet we're expected to follow them without understanding why. We got them at church, at school, possibly at home, and we don't know if they have relevance to us now. The rule I always like to pick on is the idea that wearing non-essential jewelry (i.e. anything but a watch or a wedding band) is a sin. This is not biblically founded, and has nothing to do with the state of a believer's heart. Other people have a problem with restrictions on certain types of meat (pork, certain seafood, etc.). I've just come to the conclusion that those types of meat are restricted in the Bible because they're unhealthy (pigs don't sweat and shrimp, etc. clean the bottom of the ocean of excrement), so I don't mind following that rule. However, I see the point that it shouldn't be linked to Salvation. So, our generation (some of us) has decided that we need to take a more liberal approach to religion. And that's a good thing. Right?

What happens when we start questioning the basic tenants of our religion? What happens when we decide that all of the "rules" we have been following are no longer relevant in our lives today? Which ones are we willing to sacrifice to liberalism?

How can we toss out the divinity of Christ because it doesn't agree with the world's view on the topic? One person, at least, would like to say that we can focus on Christ's teachings and his way of life as an example, but we should re-evaluate our view on his divinity. Why? Is there any biblical reason to doubt Christ's divinity? If not, what authority should we look to that tells us that Christ was not/ is not God? If Christ himself claimed divinity, how can we call him "good" if he was lying to us all along? If he was not God, who was he? How does this approach help us bring any more people to Christ and Salvation?

Another idea some people want to embrace is that evolution is another viable option as an explanation for the beginning of the world. Well, now we throw some more doubt on the Bible. You might say, well, other beliefs that are supposedly in the Bible have been shown to be misinterpretations of what the Bible says, and have now been reconciled to science. But how can the creation story be re-interpreted to match with evolution? The argument I read was not calling for a long, evolution-like creation story, but actual acceptance of the Big Bang Theory. What would we gain by doing this? Are we going to win people to Christ by taking away God's creative power? Now, how do we know who God is? If he is not the author and creator of our existence, how can he be the author and creator of our Salvation? How can he help us get through this life?

The author of this article is not alone in his desire to reform the Sabbath by lifting restrictions. It is sad that people feel there are restrictions on the Sabbath. I say this because the Sabbath is about how we can worship God the way he wants us to. It's not about what we can or can't do on the Sabbath. Maybe this is a conclusion that is not supported by a lot of Adventists. I'm sure there are many who would say, "No, it IS about what you can't do on Sabbath." To them I say, thanks a lot for ruining it for us all. We should focus on coming up with meaningful ways to worship rather than on saying, "Don't do that; don't do this." Is the following a verse about restriction?:

"If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
       and from doing as you please on my holy day,
       if you call the Sabbath a delight
       and the LORD's holy day honorable,
       and if you honor it by not going your own way
       and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,  14 then you will find your joy in the LORD,
       and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land
       and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob." Isaiah 58:12-14

I don't feel that it is. This is a promise, more than a restriction. The Sabbath WAS made for man. And it was made for man to be able to come closer to God and worship him. It is to be our delight and our joy. It is to be restful and refreshing. It is to keep us sane in a time when the world is revolving seemingly on its own with no help from God. When the world has rejected him, we have a date in time with the Creator of the universe when he's set aside time especially for us.

Well, I could go on and on, but this is just a sample of what I find to be a problem with the liberal swing of the religion pendulum. I'm glad we have moved away from ultra-conservatism, but we need to watch ourselves so we don't swing all the way to the other side. Why does this author even want to call himself an Adventist anymore? He's questioning the validity of the Bible, the "existences and attributes of God," the divinity of Christ, the importance of the Sabbath, and the problem of evil. What is he leaving that is still Adventism? After doing more research I will probably blog about humanism and what I think about the author's opinions on that topic.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Book Review: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Penguin Popular Classics) Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
After just having finished a theory class, I could see more significance in Alice's uncertainty of who she was. She realizes that she is not the same as she was before, and doesn't quite know who she is now. I loved that the entire book was a dream. Her encounters with the characters were very reminiscent of what would occur in dreams, too: the characters are familiar, but odd, and most of the dialogue was nonsensical. Throughout the book Alice is asked to recall verses that she is supposed to know, but when she recites them they are not quite right, yet she doesn't know how they're supposed to go. Like a dream, the scenes she finds herself in change rapidly with no seeming reason (as when the hall with doors disappears even though she hasn't moved). The ending was weak. Instead of ending with Alice waking, it goes on to focus on her sister musing about Alice and how she would be a wonderful grown up, telling stories to children that would entertain and delight them. I felt it was really odd to switch to the point of view of the sister at the very end.

If the purpose of the book was to be an entertaining story for children, I believe Carroll succeeded. If it was to be an attempt at describing dreamlike thought, I think it was also a success. All in all, it was an interesting story, though I probably won't choose to read it again for purely enjoyment. I'll probably read it to my children, though.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Wuthering Heights Review

Wuthering Heights Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
What did I expect with the title "Wuthering Heights"? A fun read? No. It was totally depressing. A book about revenge (I believe) with very few redeeming qualities in any of the characters! If I thought I liked a particular character, I was soon forced to change my mind. Even the housekeeper who was narrating most of the story was not very well-informed in her decisions, and her most well-meaning advice often caused more trouble than good. The whole family (both sides) was poisonous. No one was safe. There were a few redeeming pages at the end of the book that made it not quite a worthless read. Though, I must say I was intrigued and interested throughout despite the horrible characters. I wanted some good to come to somebody, and eventually it did. So, three stars for this one.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ripple baby blanket project

Here is the first crochet project I have completed in a long while. I've had several projects in progress over the years, but haven't completed anything recently besides a pair of fingerless reading gloves for my mom. This baby blanket is for my new second cousin, Anzleigh, who was born on December 15.

The ripple pattern is easy (if you can count to six hundreds of times) and makes for a unique look. Anzleigh's room is decorated in pink and black, so I wanted the blanket to match. It would have turned out better if I had used all the same yarn. As it was I used Lion Brand Vanna's Choice Baby for the dark pink and white, and Vanna's Choice for the black (which was slightly larger than the baby yarns). The light pink was a satiny cotton (I forget the brand) and ended up being quite a bit smaller than the other yarns even though it was supposedly the same gauge. Anyway, it was fun and I'll use the ripple pattern again!

Friday, August 21, 2009

First week of graduate school

It's Friday of my first week of graduate school, and I'm excited and scared! Not only do I have 3 major papers (15+ pages) to write this semester (one for each of my classes), but the type of research I'm supposed to produce is different than the kind I did in undergrad classes (I'm expected to come up with my own original idea after finding out what criticism already exists for my topic). Of course, with these three major papers I have other smaller ones (small means under 10 pages) and lots of reading with all of my classes. Whew! Well, can't really complain yet because I've just gotten started. I hope I can do well!
Ryan and I are exhausted after just one week! Our routine revolves around school and work, homework, and cooking and washing dishes. We have to prepare all our meals in advance (especially for Monday and Wednesday when we practically live on campus from 8a-8p). This of course creates a lot of dirty dishes which we don't have much time to clean up. On top of all this, Ryan gets to drive to Cleveland for work 3 days a week and doesn't get home till 9:30 on Tuesday and Thursday.
It's probably a good thing no one reads this blog. You'd just be bored!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

What women should know about men

Or, rather, what men should be telling their wives! I just finished the book For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn, and I feel like I understand what makes Ryan tick a little better. I guess I can't blame him for not telling me some of the things I read; I suppose they could make for an awkward conversation. I really appreciate what the author did in this book. She interviewed over a hundred men, and took a survey of over 1000 other men, as well. Since she got some pretty overwhelming answers, I suppose she was right to be able to make some generalizations. Also, the fact that her mission in writing the book was to encourage women to love their men the way they need to be loved really made an impression on me to try to understand how to love Ryan better, or rather, how to show him better. I don't want to go into details about the book here, but I think every woman should read it. It's important to know how your husband ticks in order to be the best wife you can be. And I think that is what God wants us to do.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Reflection on the last book I read

I just posted my review of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, but I wanted to share some more of my thoughts. I recently learned that one in 150 children has autism. That is a frighteningly huge number! What if I have a child with autism? How will I deal with it? In the past when I've thought about this possibility, it seemed simple: Well, I'll take him to the best school, I'll find great teachers, and I'll spend all my time with him helping him learn and grow. Most importantly, I'll love him. After reading this book, my perspective hasn't changed on how I'd help my child, but I'm a lot more scared about how it would feel to be his mom. Can you imagine that your child won't be emotionally attached to you? That you are only important in that you are a constant he can rely on? Can you imagine that he won't like you to touch him, not even to hug him or hold his hand? I was more traumatized by the impression I got of this boy's parents. His mother leaves him and his dad because she can't take the stress that his condition causes for her. His father works his hardest to take care of him and give him what he needs, and when the mother leaves, his father makes the mistake of trying to hide the fact from Christopher by saying that his mother died. The one thing that Christopher can't understand/tolerate/forgive is people lying to him. So, when he finds out his father has lied, he can't trust him anymore and tries to run away. Even though his dad did what he thought was best, he has to work really hard to win Christopher's trust back. Christopher can't seem to understand what love means because he doesn't experience that emotion. The only emotion he experiences in the whole book is fear. Anyway, I really feel for parents of autistic children and children with other disabilities, because it seems like it would be the hardest thing in the world to deal with.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A heart-wrenching book about a boy with Asperger's Syndrome, told in the first person. It gave me an idea about what it is like for people with autism. I really felt bad for the boy's parents, especially his dad, and I appreciated his teachers and how they help him. The book gave me a new understanding and really enlightened me. I think everyone should read it. It made me cry at the end, but not because it has a bad ending. It's just such a deep book that captures your emotions!

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Monday, July 13, 2009


Dracula (Critical Edition) Dracula by Bram Stoker

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
Dracula is basically considered the definitive book about vampires. If that is the case, then vampires aren't as scary as I thought them to be. Count Dracula is very strong, and he can change forms and fit through tiny cracks (like the space between a closed door and the door jamb), but he is very limited by small things like garlic, crucifixes, and the "holy wafer." He cannot come into a house unless invited (what kind of villain has to be invited inside???), and he can't cross over water except at high or low tide (at one point he is stuck on board a ship because he has to be carried--in his box--off the boat). He is completely vulnerable if caught sleeping in his coffin. Okay, so that's what I didn't like about the book: I thought the villain should have been scarier. However, I really enjoyed reading it, and I liked it's format (it is told by journal entries and letters). It got pretty suspenseful at the end, so that was fun. I would recommend it for people who like classic literature, but not so much for people who like to read horror books (it wouldn't be scary enough).

I can't decide what I think about Stoker's representation of women. On the one hand, they are smart, good, and respected (which I like), but on the other hand they are weak, and, when they become vampires, evil seductresses. I'm not sure if he was trying to make a comment about women's purity and that it should be guarded at all costs lest they become corrupted into sex fiends, or if he was trying to make the point that women are smart, as smart as men at times, and should be trusted in decision-making.

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Monday, July 6, 2009

The Graveyard Book The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Graveyard Book is all about a boy who grows up in a graveyard, taken care of by the dead inhabitants and a member of an elite "honor guard" who is undead (I have a sneaking suspicion he's a vampire, but it never really comes out and says that). Nobody (Bod for short) has the freedom of the graveyard, which means he can haunt, "fade," dreamwalk, and do other things that ghosts can supposedly do. That makes the story really fun and interesting, but unfortunately these "super powers" only lasts until he's grown and has to leave the graveyard. The reason Bod is in danger leaves a little to be desired. I don't feel like that part of the story was well thought out. Maybe it's okay because it's a children's book, but it wasn't very believable. I was saddened by the ending. It's not a really sad ending, but he ends up completely alone in the world. He's without his only human friend (who had her memories erased so she won't know Bod again), and he can no longer speak with the dead, either, who are the only "people" he ever really knew. He sets off for adventure, but he's all alone. All in all, it was a fun read, and I think that people who like to read children's literature would enjoy it.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Foul Mood Day

I don't know why I feel the need to be in a yucky mood today. Maybe it's because I just found out that I don't get to go see fireworks this year. Maybe it's because I'm tired of working so much. Maybe I just want to be in a bad mood. Anyway, I really should snap out of it. My house is clean (thanks to my wonderful hubby), I do get to go to a lovely 4th of July picnic with our own fireworks (and fireworks of the surrounding hills in Cleveland, so I'm promised), and I get to go eat lunch with Alexa this afternoon. Okay, I guess I've talked myself out of my foul mood. Yay! I hope maybe I've helped you think of the things you're thankful for.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey

Northanger Abbey (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
This book was pretty straightforward and simple. I liked some of Austen's discussions (she actually "spoke" as the author instead of just telling the story, which I thought was pretty neat, and as the author she talked about novel writing and other topics). The ending was expected, but a little abrupt. It wasn't the best of Austen's books for sure, but overall a nice, fun read.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Neil Gaiman's American Gods

American Gods American Gods by Neil Gaiman

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Neil Gaiman is crazy! I enjoyed reading this book for its vivid descriptions and crazy premise. I was left wondering what was going on the whole way through (and only got most of the answers to my questions by the end). The characters are all crazy (sorry, this is just the best word I can use to describe a lot of this book), and there was a little too much sex (and none of it was sex between two people who love each other). I really liked the way the plot panned out, though. The main character grows and changes, the bad guys get their due, and yet a mystery still hangs around what actually happens/happened/will happen. A very entertaining read.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Sabbath, Part 2

So, after our discussion about the Sabbath on Friday night, I tried to live Sabbath like I should. I love Sabbath, and I always will. It is our special "time out" to be with God. It can include time with family, rest, worship, and food, but mostly it's about worship and being with God. So, this last Sabbath, we went to church (which was a really nice service at Collegedale Community, by the way), then went to my parents' house for lunch. It was a pretty light lunch (very yummy), which helps avoid the usual slump I always get Sabbath afternoon that makes me want to take a nap. After that, though, I did go take a short nap, which was nice. I'm not sure that God wants us to waste part of our day with him in sleeping, but I'll try working on that little by little. If I can at least try to keep my thoughts focused toward him I'll feel better about my Sabbath experience. After that, Ryan and I prepped our food for the evening then went to hang out with our families and have some coffee. It was a nice, relaxing time. Then we had a supper celebration for father's day. A little after sundown we had sundown worship (if I had remembered earlier we could have done it then, but, out of habit, I didn't think about it). I felt like this Sabbath was a positive move toward better Sabbath-keeping, but definitely not at 100%. How do you keep Sabbath?
Stardust Stardust by Neil Gaiman

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book was simply fun! I loved the story, the imagery, the language. Neil Gaiman is awesome! The movie was pretty good, too, but it strayed from the story line a bit. It left some stuff out (as movies often do), but it added some stuff in, which really made it a better story. It's hard for me to accept movie adaptations, so I didn't really like the fact that it changed the story, but I liked the movie on its own.

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Neverwhere: A Novel Neverwhere: A Novel by Neil Gaiman

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I really enjoyed this book! It had suspense, action, mystery. It was a different world, one that has little in common with the real world. It was vividly told, and quite entertaining.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Sabbath

This Friday at Bible study we're going to be studying the Sabbath. Not what day of the week we should worship on, but how do we keep the Sabbath like God wants us to. So, I started searching the Bible. Do you know that not a whole lot is said on the subject? Most of the texts dealing with Sabbath keeping only say what not to do (don't gather food, don't light a fire, don't work, etc.) and the penalty for breaking the Sabbath (death). So how do we really keep the Sabbath and find it enjoyable? Ellen White has some stuff to say on the subject, too. I read some about it from the book Child Guidance. I'm struggling with it a bit b/c it's so far from what I have been doing. Some of it I liked. She says that parents should take their children out in nature to look at God's creation and to teach them object lessons. This is really great. But she also says that children aren't to play on Sabbath (whether indoors or out) and the only thing she suggests doing with them is talking with them on spiritual things or singing songs or praying. Now, my attention span isn't long enough to sit still and talk about God all day, or even to walk in nature dwelling on Christ and his creation. Of course, that definitely says something about my walk with God. But how can we expect children to be still all day long? Even with a nature walk, do we expect them not to run, to get rowdy, to want to laugh and play? Is that even what God wants? God wants our hearts and our worship. How do we give that to him, especially on Sabbath? How do we keep ourselves from breaking his holy day? One thing I really want to start doing more is taking full advantage of Friday (and if necessary Thursday as well) as preparation day so that my house and heart are ready to worship God from sundown to sundown. This includes cleaning, grocery shopping, and prayer. This topic is definitely an important one, and I don't want to limit Sabbath to a list of don'ts. It needs to be a mindset and a sacred time to set my heart apart for God.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Witching Hour (Lives of the Mayfair Witches, #1) The Witching Hour by Anne Rice

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
I'm torn between my admiration for the colorful writing, and my dislike of the entire subject matter and the end of the book. Rice writes very descriptively about New Orleans, architecture, landscaping, people, sex, feelings, etc. I was interested in the story, so once I started it I wanted to finish it. However, I wouldn't recommend it to Christians; people who don't like to read about witches, sex, or killing; or "children" under the age of 18. Also not recommended for people who want to get to the end of the story after 900+ pages. Unfortunately, I'm one of those people, so the ending left me hanging (and I don't want to drag myself through the next dark book to see what happens). One good thing: Rice left us hanging and wondering about what was really going on throughout the entire book, and did answer most questions by the end.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

New interest in blogging

So, I haven't been on here in a while, as you can see. I forget about my blog sometimes (probably because no one else is interested in reading it). Anyway, recently I've had a lot more time to spend on the internet (work is really slow), so I've been busy on facebook and now Goodreads (which is an awesome website for readers). If someone sent me an invite to a site for crochet-ers, I would join that one too! A new interest is trying to work up to being able to do 100 pushups at a time (right now I can do 3); Ryan found a website to help me do that, and he wants to try too! (I seriously need some arm/back/tummy definition, and I might try the 200 sit-ups program, too.) Now that I found out I can add book reviews from Goodreads to my blog, I might be on here more. Anyway, if anyone is interested in these same pursuits, let me know!
Stardust Stardust by Neil Gaiman

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
So far, I'm really enjoying this book. Ryan and I are reading it together; otherwise I would have it finished by now. I'm a huge fan of fairy tales, so this one fits the bill. It's definitely for adults, though (there's some violence). We're reading a fully illustrated hardback copy that friends are lending to us. It's really cool!

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