Today I watched the recent most Robin Hood film starring Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett. Although Alan Rickman and Morgan Freeman will not allow me to ever forget the greatness of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (not to mention Bryan Adams great song for the sound track), Robin Hood is a much better film in so many ways.
I must begin by labeling the great many faults from which Prince of Thieves obviously suffers. First off, would any lord of the twelfth century have a mullet? I think not; probably would don a longer hairstyle (in the front and back) and perhaps even some facial hair. This fault is a minor one seeing how historical films are almost never accurate in the portrayal of hair. There is that one great exception of the tonsure, popular amongst medieval monks. Christian Slater definitely looked pious with that hair cut in The Name of the Rose while fornicating with a women later proclaimed to be a heretic.
One must never forget the lack of talent amongst some of the cast, or perhaps the casting director. Do not mistake me, Kevin Costner is amazing as a baseball player or perhaps a cowboy (especially since his guns miraculously never run out of bullets). As Sir Robin of Locksley however, Kevin just was not up to snuff. Does it not strike anyone strange that the main character of a film set in medieval England does not have an English accent? This little detail may be overlooked if the rest of the cast were also American. Unfortunately, majority of the cast is in fact British, and those who are not at least attempt to speak in that tongue. Morgan Freeman even goes so far as to speak like a man from the Middle East who has learnt English from an Englishman (and not an American).
The biggest problem of the film is the blatant historical inaccuracy. King John is never mentioned; apparently it was some random sheriff that was going to take control of the whole of England. King Richard I, aka "Lion Heart," must have risen from the dead in France to return to England after the Crusade at the end of the film. (Although if anyone can do it, Sean Connery can!) It is somewhat unfortunate that they did not mention King John, and his misfortunes of being the king that allowed barons to have more power. He was the king that signed the Magna Carta in 1215. Films produced today always exaggerate the claims of freedom in ages where such terminology does not translate to anything similar to our own idea of the word. This moment in history was one which could be relished as a step towards modern freedom; one that was a step towards representative government. The new movie, Robin Hood, not only accurately shows Richard I dying in France before his return, but also portrays the political climate of John's reign.
The film is good in other ways like details surround the creation of the Robin Hood legend and his connections with the house of Locksley. This story combines those of Robin being a commoner and those of his origins being in noble blood. Cate Blanchett makes a much stronger Marian than Mastrantonio, and the friars are equal in each movie respectively. As for poor Matthew Macfadyen, his character's role was small and very much undermining the potency of that villainous character which Alan Rickman and so many before him have so greatly played.
As for flaws of the new film, it has plenty of its own but of a lesser gauge. Complete historical accuracy in a film is absolutely impossible, and I am sure that the producers and screenwriters do not claim such. I do find it amusing that this film still did not have English subjects playing the lead roles. This time the actors were from another of Great Britain's former colonies, Australia. Crowe and Blanchett have however mastered the English, and American, accents. Crowe was attempting to be more regionally specific by adopting a more northern or Yorkshire sounding accent. I am not an expert, being a crumby Yank myself, but his attempt was a good one, better in some scenes than others. I feel that the attempt was worth something more than Costner's blatant disregard for cultural ambiance.
Regardless of either's faults, both movies have their place in my permanent video library (if I had the funds to purchase the new one).
My mind continues to ponder on philosophical ideas of late. My most recent fascination is the idea that there are several sectors of people in this world, and we very rarely wander outside the one in which we were born. For the most part, I am referring to economic spheres, though cultural ones are applicable, too. I must explain this somewhat confusing idea that has erupted from my brain. Let's say that you were born in a city with parents that either did not work or had jobs that paid very little. You are more likely to grow-up and be satisfied with a low paying job and a lower standard of living than someone who grew-up in the upper middle class suburbs. As a person who was expected to not only go to college but even go on to further study from a very young age (even though only one of my parents even received an undergraduate degree), my idea of taking a crappy job is one way above the standards of most. I currently work at Verizon Wireless as a greeter. I consider this an incredibly bad job, not only because of the less than adequate pay to cover my bills, but also because it is a job that requires no skills and therefore bores me to death! Even one of my own managers has told me that I really need to go and do something with my life. Yet, this job would be a dream come true for so many people who just need regular pay.
I was reminded of my realization of never being satisfied with some lines of work when watching a film with people working hot dog stands. I would never think that working as a hot dog vendor was a good enough occupation unless I was sixteen years old and I just needed money for a gas and a movie on the weekends. The thought that those people not only are supporting themselves on pay from a hot dog vending business, but are also probably supporting a family, is an astronomical thought. Here I am making $11.5/hr in an air conditioned building where I have to wear business attire, but I still can't really cover all of my bills.
The change from one sector to the other is of course not impossible. Social mobility is after all what democracy and this country is all about. I do feel that the mobility up is one that is much fuller than that of the downward cycle. This does not mean that you are financially stable in that new (or old) sector, just that you refuse to accept any other life. I am in that very situation. I refuse to leave the sector in which I was born, middle to upper class. My lifestyle and preferences reflect how I have been spoiled for most of my life and continue to try to give myself these same niceties.
In which sector do you reside? Will you ever attempt to leave it? In which direction? Is one more admirable than another?
I have recently been having some philosophical mental discussions involving the sacrifices that I would be willing to make in specific situations. Most of the scenarios include risking or sacrificing my own life for another. I am not sure if everyone feels the same, though I somewhat assume so. I feel that I would be willing to give my life for another person. I do not mean that I would give my own life just to save my best friend, husband, brother, or child, but anyone.
This begs the question, "what about people who have done evil in their lives?" In my mind, the sins they have committed in their life previous to this moment of my self-sacrifice only make them more in need of such a gift. Those persons who would do the same for you or who have made similar sacrifices in their own lives do not deserve this ultimate gift any less. This gift could just change the lives of some more drastically than others. Perhaps the touch of un-selfish kindness could lead evil people to see that they should lead better lives.
But again we must question ourselves about the amount of life actually left for that person. Should a child who has his or her life fully ahead of them be easier to make this sacrifice for than someone older than yourself? I think that if there was the choice between saving the child or an older person, I would choose the child. However, if I was presented with the situation of choosing my own life or someone nearer to the end of their lives, I still think that I would make that sacrifice. All of the scenarios are just hypothetical, and no one will know what they will really do in such a situation until they actually encounter it. I truly hope that I will fulfill my predictions of my own reactions should one of these situations arise in my life.
I also have been asking myself about the sacrifices I would make for my own child, and would I ever give him or her up. First, I would sacrifice anything and everything of myself for my child. Does this include giving them up? I am not sure. There are definitely situations where giving up a child is too easy of an answer, but there are others where it is definitely the best option for the child. The latter really falls under a different category for me; some people should never reproduce. I know that such an opinion seems overly harsh and judgemental, but I truly believe in its significance. Those who are physically or mentally inept and cannot care for their child properly, should not have children. As humans we have increased our life expectancy through techonology. Along with this, we have ruled out the laws of nature according to Darwin and other evolutionary theorists. As humans we no longer have to adapt to survive; technology allows us to survive when nature would not. If I knew that I had a debilitating disease that I could pass on to my children that would seriously effect their lives, I hope that I would come to terms with the fact that I should not create such a life. I know that God chooses for life to happen, but our free will is also at play.
What sacrifices would you be willing to make for your child? your spouse? a stranger?
So I was at work, Verizon Wireless, when I looked out the front doors and spotted a silver Corvette. Now most people might say something along the lines of, "Wow, that is a nice car." Not me. I instead reflected the same memories that every silver Corvette evokes in me, and that is memories of Bruce Boxleitner in Scarecrow and Mrs. King. This was a TV show produced in the 1980's that centered on a plot about a spy and an ordinary house wife working together as a team. It just so happens that Lee Stetson, aka Scarecrow, drove a silver Corvette throughout most of the series. Now because this show aired when I was a small child, it may seem strange that I would have such a strong memories of it. In fact, my mother will corroborate that I did watch this show when it aired, and I did indeed have a crush on Bruce Boxleitner at the ripe age of 4 or 5. I do have to admit, the crush lives on! These are the thoughts that are running through my mind at work, and all because there was a particular car parked out front.
Memories are crazy in that they can be triggered by strange sensations or experiences. Other vehicles that I encounter give my mind different reactions. For example, there are several models of trucks and a particular year of the cavalier in blue that raises my anxiety and blood pressure levels. Just the sight of these vehicles takes me back to horrible relationships that have since thankfully ended. Different odors are another very potent memory trigger. There can be very pleasant triggers such as family dinners from specific foods that smell like your mommas home cooking or a great cologne that was worn by someone you love. There can also be unpleasant reactions to odors such as specific scents from a horrible accident or the ever noticeable "hospital smell." Our brains are like huge file cabinets that have been indexed with things that only it knows. The smells, sights, and other experiences that trigger memories are like keywords found in a database.
What crazy triggers have caused your mind to uncover memories?
So my pastor leads the Sunday School which I attend on Sunday mornings. This past week, we were discussing the meaning of justice in the context of the Bible, and someone offered the definition of fairness. The pastor disagreed with this definition for justice because of the different interpretations of "fair" and the political ramifications that this word could denote. He then actually mentioned, more than once, that to define the Bible's "justice" as fairness comes too close to communism. Now he did not actually say that God would be against communism in general, but the political climate in the room definitely gave me the feeling this was what he meant. I also got the feeling that I was alone in thinking that fairness and indeed the Utopian idea of communism is just what God would have in mind for us if He had not given us free will and therefore allowed the strong to prey on the weak.
I was good and held my tongue during that part of the discussion. Still, my mind was reeling, thinking of how so many people misunderstand the true meaning of both communism and socialism because of the abuse that leaders around the world have given to the institution. The age group of the class ensured that my feelings toward the economic system would definitely differ from the others since I was by far the youngest one in the room. I did have my childhood during the Cold War, but I did not live with as much of that threat as the rest of them. Facing less of a physical threat of imminent World War III, I am able to view the institution more objectively and see past the disgrace that Soviet leaders such as Stalin and Cuba's Castro have done with the nineteenth century ideal. I am not saying that I think that we should abandon capitalism and turn toward a complete egalitarian economy. What I am saying is that equality among all of His children is something God may look upon with favorable eyes.
So the other week, I was at church and a fellow in my Sunday School class started to talk about T.V. and how it represents God. The man said that even if He is present in the shows, which most of the time is far from being the case, He is portrayed in a diminutive and condescending manner. In his opinion, television did nothing but cause us to stray from God and, though he did not outright say it, all other morality.
I have to disagree with the man on many levels. It is true that there are a lot of shows out there that have very little to do with morality. Reality T.V, although seemingly real, is completely void of all morality, but not humanity. These shows embrace the very essence of the bestiality in mankind. Most television, and this includes the big screen, does reflect a positive morality and in some cases goes so far as to encourage the belief in the existence of God. The shows may not always refer to a christian God, but God non-the-less.
One place that you find morality on television where you least expect it is in horror films. Now, I grant you that they circumvent the normal way in which to approach morality, and this is very misleading. Horror flicks are not only full of vulgar language, violence, and gore but even more so of young adults having sex. But isn't that the point? Who always dies first in those films? The very attractive, heavily breasted, easy blond who has sex in the first five to ten minutes of the film always dies first. Its the wholesome ones that survive.
A more recent television show, which just happens to star my new obsession David Duchovny, Californiacation, is another prime example of morality where you least expect it. This show is completely about the downward spiral of a lost writer who is drinking, smoking, and screwing his way into oblivion. Behind all this craziness in his life, is the pure simplicity of wanting to do the right thing and be with the family he adores. His self-destruction is only stopped through the need to do anything and everything, not only for his daughter, but for her mother, his one true love. Sappy, but moralizing if you truly watch the show for its meaning. Most other films and shows that have such provocative themes are really speaking to a much softer understanding of life.
Now I must of course return to my new (though old) favorite show, also starring David Duchovny. The X-Files is a show that most would think would fall into the category of condescension towards God. In some ways the character of Mulder has that sort of idea, but Scully always reigns him in on those cases. In fact, there are many episodes which involve religious rituals and beliefs that are always proven true and reasonable, whether it is Mulder or Scully as the skeptic. Scully, throughout the series, wears a small gold cross around her neck, which of course every time she goes missing Mulder seems to miraculously find. He even wears it in his imagination in one episode (hard to understand unless you see the episode). Throughout these many trials that their search for the truth has caused them to suffer, the knowledge has not made Dana's faith falter. In fact it only seemed to make it stronger. The episode in which her cancer goes into remission leaves the question of whether that remission was caused solely by the microchip placed back into her neck or if this miraculous cure was in conjunction with the fact that she has allowed herself to re-connect with God.
Undoubtedly the best evidence for this show supporting faith and spirituality is in its handling of a subject which should disprove the existence of God. The discovery of extra-terrestrial life is not damning enough, they also discover that the space ships that have been hidden on earth for thousands of years, not only prove that human life came from an alien life form, but also that the Word of God (no matter the religion) comes from the writings on those ships. The religions from around the world have come from ideas that the aliens provided us. Does this stop Scully or even Mulder from believing in God, even when they know that the final re-colonization of the aliens will occur Dec. 22 2012? No! The final scene to the series ends with the fact that what they both truly "want to believe in," is the existence of God and his ability to save their souls. They even make reference to her small golden cross.
So, the ultimate science embracing, sci-phi fanatic's wet dream, actually encourages the belief in God no matter what kind of evidence to the contrary appears. There is always a reason to continue in faith.
I was sitting in LabCor office awaiting my pee-test for the new job that have acquired, nervous about my results being screwed up by a diet pill that I have recently begun taking that actually allows me not to eat, when I noticed the Holy Bible lying on the coffee table amongst the random magazines like Working Mother. Suddenly I am reminded that in this country there is one thing that you can find just about anywhere, and that is the Christian Bible. It is in every hotel room, waiting room, and probably every office. Now, I am not sure if I should be comforted by this fact or appalled by it. Being christian myself, I suppose that I should be comforted by the fact that I can find the word of God where ever I go. But at the same time it is presumptuous to have only that book available and not the Quran or any other religious text that is not affiliated with Christianity.
Then the obvious hits me, and I am brought back to my insane obsession with X-Files. There was an episode which described the government, as part of its conspiracy to cover-up the cooperation with alien life-forms who plan to take over the planet, as having kept track of every person in an attempt at cataloguing the human race. One way in which this was done was through implanting survey materials inside these Bibles that are found throughout our society. It is the perfectly hidden, assumed innocent, item in which to hide such Constitution-breaking procedures.
This brings me back to why the X-Files are so great. They have touched to the great paranoid vein of America. Most people are skeptical of the government and the actions it takes against people's Constitutional rights. Just think of all the people who are skeptical of whether or not we landed on the moon, the conspiracy that killed President Kennedy, or most of all that George Orwell's "Big Brother" really exists and is watching. There are hundreds of stories out there that outline the assumption that the U.S. government has far more advanced technologies than one would ever imagine and that it uses these technologies secretly against its own citizens. The X-Files just takes it two steps forward to include not only an international cover-up, but one that includes extra-terrestrials as well. The question is, why are those Bibles there? Are they for the comfort of a seemingly decreasing population of christian Americans? Or are they part of some other, more seedy operation?
So first I need to apologize to those of you who actually read my blog, since I have not posted in a couple weeks. This situation is mostly due to my recluse nature here recently brought on somewhat by depression and self-pity, but mostly from a new obsession. This new obsession has caused me to basically put my life on hold (where possible) in order to watch the entirety of X- Files starring David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. What started out as just a side-track T.V. show until I focus on my next book club book, turned into an actual addiction. Not only have I deprived myself from sleep, but I also basically went over 36 hours without food while watching all of the episodes of this show. For those of you who know me personally, you know that this proves my insane addiction to this show, because food is my number one priority in life.
The biggest discussion here needs to be not just the amount of my fascination but the cause behind that fascination. Judging by the huge audience and the numerous awards that this show received during its running, there is no question to the quality of the work. The actors and writing were excellent. My obsessions (and yes I have a history of them) almost always stem from focusing on certain people and characters. And like the numerous so-called X-File cults, I am sure that I am not alone in my new found stalking appetite for both David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. The character relationship which they created was excellent. Their on-screen chemistry is the best and most real I have ever experienced.
In addition to the actors attributions to the show, its creator has done a wonderful job in combining real-life mysteries, stories, and even actual events with new legends into a series that really envelopes you into its world. There are really three types of X-File episodes. One is kind of a backgrounder. It has a plot of some paranormal phenomenon which Mulder and Scully (or later Dogget and Reyes) have to solve, in the process revealing information about the characters lives and building up this wonderful chemistry that I keep mentioning. In these episodes (and all of them really) it usually includes the part where Mulder splits off to follow a lead in the field and Scully goes to the county morgue or Quantico to perform the latest autopsy and chemical analysis of data. The second type of episode is one that involves the overall connecting plot of government cover-up of extra-terrestrial life. As an avid watcher, these episodes are what you live for. I could not imagine having to wait week after week to see the next installment that continues this story (although I am sure that I would). These episodes detail the struggle and suffering of Mulder and Scully's life that is sacrificed to find the truth, whatever that may be. The final type of episode is one that I feel sets this show apart from others. Chris Carter has used several different forms and spoof outlines for these episodes. One example is the use of the show COPS. Many of these episodes allow for the actors to show a different side of themselves, and believe it or not smile a little more. One of my favorite of these was an episode where the same story was basically presented three times: how it actually happened, Mulder's view of the events, and Scully's view of the events. The way in which the characters view each other's actions was brilliant!
Due to my current obsession, I am sure that this will not be my last post about neither the X-Files nor actors David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. My goal is to pursue more information and connections that the show may reveal. After-all "the truth is out there."
Photos from: sword.borderline-angel.com/.../aliens.html and Gillian Anderson Official Website
If you have not yet read The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown, and plan to do so, I recommend not reading this post, for it may contain information that will spoil the book.
I have been a fan of Dan Brown since I first saw the movie DaVinci Code. I know, I am one of those people that resist such bandwagons of books until I see the movie and am inspired to read it. After seeing the movie, however, I then read DaVinci Code,Angels and Demons, and Deception Point. The only one that I have not read is Digital Fortress. When I heard that he was releasing another volume of the story involving Robert Langdon, I of course wanted to read it!
Overall this story compels the reader to think of Jesus' message "The Kingdom of God is in you and all around you."(Gospel of Thomas) God can be found within us all through the expansion of minds and knowledge. This message is not just a Christian one, but one of all religions, portrayed in numerous ancient texts. I am intrigued with Brown's intricate way of connecting so many ideas. He not only makes connections of ancient texts and religions, but also connects those ideas to newer revelations about the power of the mind and the proof of God. In this book, Brown gives light to Enlightenment, if that is possible. The greatest revelation of all is his illumination of the Noetic Sciences, a sector which bridges the ever widening gap of religion and science. As always, his book has left me pondering and grasping out to read texts affirming and/or tearing down these great hypotheses.
There are two areas of the book where Brown has disappointed. One aspect that is greatly disappointing as a historian, is Brown's many references to dispelling of the theory of a flat earth through the explorations to the New World. There is no evidence to support such a claim, though as children we are taught this fallacy in school from a very early age. I am disappointed because it is one area that Brown does not challenge the norms in the way the world views history.
A second disappointing aspect of this novel is the lack of connectivity to the previous two concerning Robert Langdon. Brown does make some superficial references like his claustrophobia and the horrors that he experienced in that respect while in Rome and France. What the book avoids, is building upon the knowledge that Robert has learned in the previous installments. In this new tale, Robert is solving a mystery of the Freemasons and in the process revealing much about Enlightenment and the presence of God within us. What would make these revelations more meaningful, would be for the character of Robert to reflect these new findings with what he had learned previously, most notably reflection on the fact that he has proof of the blood-line of Christ. What is the meaning of this claimed knowledge about Jesus' life and the alleged incorrect portrayal of his life in the Bible in reference to the way Brown presents the Bible in The Lost Symbol?
The Lost Symbol was a very enjoyable novel which both challenges and expands the mind as all the previous novels have done. Still, I am left a bit disappointed with a lack of connection to his other works, and left wondering what is his real message? Perhaps, I am reading into this too much. However, I do not believe that anyone would write novels that stir so many questions for entertainment purposes only.
Images found through google images at pacemiller.com and onlinemoviesfreedownload.blogspot.com
It has recently, and most abruptly, come to my attention that the Internet world has become the biggest gossip pool since humans began gossiping. And let's just be honest, humans have been gossiping since they could draw on cave walls! The use of such mediums like blogs, facebook, and others is not only to make connections with friends and family that are not easily accessible, but also to get commentary from the world at large. For example, when you post things on Facebook, it is to tell the world your thoughts for a specific reason. You may be asking for help, looking to annoy or get a rise out of people, or simply letting people know what is happening in your life. It is understandable that you may forget what people may or may not see, but simply sharing the intimate details of your life on such a network is an invitation for people to read, analyze, and even comment on your actions. If something is "none of any one's business" but your own, then keep it to yourself. That is precisely what diaries are for! You can still write it on the computer ... just saved in your own personal documents and not blasted out on the Internet for the world to see!
Sorry for the whining session ... but I had to share it with the world! :)
Well for those of you who know me, it is very needed to say that I am not going to literally be back in the saddle tomorrow. What I am going back to tomorrow is Church. I have been debating this for quite some time, and I have decided to take the plunge. I am a bit nervous. My nervousness consists on several levels: a) the fact that I have not been in a long time gives me some anxiety, b) the expectations that I will have, not having the minister that I am most comfortable with, and c) does not have anything to do with Eisenhower, but I am afraid that I will go into some sort of internal break down due to the unending debate that will ultimately be going on inside my head. (For those of you who did not catch it, the list of nervous levels is an allusion to American President.)
As an historian, I cannot help but look at the Bible as an historical document. As such, I see it as written by men and not God. This alone is somewhat detrimental to the principles of the Church. What is more, I continually analyze and doubt the translations that I have been given, as well as feel the need to search out those documents which were not allowed to be a part of the New Testament. Then again, even the old testament is flawed with multiple interpretations within one story; just look at the creation story. It is these questions that will lead to the huge debate that may not be contained in my head.
My goal for tomorrow: feel out the community of Grace United Methodist Church. For me, I do not believe that it is required by God to go to church. It is simply there for a sense of community and perhaps help when you need it. Once I have found the church that fits my community needs, then I may be able to help address my problems and anxieties over my faith. In the future, I hope that any help I receive can be returned back to the community. That, after all, is what the Church really should be about.
As a historian, I am intrinsically interested in the learning and experiencing of new cultures. When I am planning out vacations, I do not just think about going to a place where I can have fun in the sun. My vacations include excursions which allow me to delve into things outside of myself. For example, even a trip to New York City is a cultural experience for me. I am after all a southerner. What I truly long for is to learn and experience cultures that are not only exotic to me but include a far older and deeper history than my own. There is just one problem. I am a poor graduate student.
My solution? The Greek Festival! Okay so I was really just experiencing the food, and drink, of the culture but who can blame ya? The day started off rather well since a rather attractive man let us into the festival without paying the entrance fee. I am not sure if he let us in out of admiration for our beauty or out of pity since we were so overzealous at the thought of Greek food that we showed up about a half-hour before they actually opened. At any rate we were in, and ready to eat. One of the most difficult decisions of the afternoon was whether or not to get a bottle of wine. My personal opinion was that we were there to experience another culture, and we could not very well really get a grasp of that culture without sampling the wine. My opinion won the day. We not only purchased and drank the bottle of wine, but were so happy with its contents that we decided to take multiple pictures with that magnificent bottle! Oh yeah and the food was delicious too! Be sure to attend your own local Greek Festival!
As I laced up my tennis shoes for a run, Orlaith, my Icelandic Sheepdog, just about jumped for glee. She thought that she was going for a walk. I normally separate her walks from my runs, because frankly it is too much of a work out. Not quite having proper training for the leash, she jerks and stops and does all kinds of crazy things all along the way that I usually tires me out within a block or two. At this point, I either give up and go home or just walk instead of run. Today my plan had been to indulge in lonely but peaceful run by myself down to the river and back. But the pure look of joy on her face melted my heart, and I couldn't even think of doing anything but take her along.
As I hooked her to the leash and walked out the door, I laid the ground rules. I told her there would be no pulling, sudden stops, or in any way trying to trip me. Somehow this little "Come to Jesus Meeting," as I like to call them, worked! She was almost a complete angel the whole run.
My favorite part of the run is always once we get to the river walk. First, we met another very fluffy dog, some sort of husky. She was very beautiful and it seemed that Orlaith had found a new friend. But as runs go, we had to move on so they agreed that their owners should meet here again soon. As we continued on the river walk past all the lovely restaurants with that great smell and the openness of the river, I always get an overwhelming sense of the old south. Now I am not speaking in the literal sense with slaves, states rights, or any of that nonsense. I am only referring to that slow sort of culture that rolls off the tongue like molasses, the heavy sweetness of tea (not iced but "sweet tea"), garden parties with big hats, and good ole spicy fried foods. All of that cultural overload in my brain quickly drifted away as Orlaith and I exited the river walk and had to make the steep climb back up to Front Street.
The rest of the run was a bit slower. Not because of my own over-weight, out of shape body, but because my poor girl was tired. She was on her last legs and extremely over heated from running the whole time(not making quite as many stops along the way). There were a few quick stops in the shade where she plopped herself down saying, "Mom, I need a rest." I was even tempted to go into one of the famous stab and grab marts for her some water when she just layed down at the front door panting wildly. Thinking against it, we finally made it home. Now resting in the back yard in the shade, we agree it was a lovely morning run!
I am currently re-reading a fascinating book, Resurrection by Tucker Malarkey. Less publicized than Dan Brown's works, Malarkey really enriches the mind and questions the soul. She takes the reader on a journey of both discovery and re-discovery. For the main character, Gemma, it is both because she is re-discovering herself and her female qualities in a post-World War II world while at the same time on a threatening trail of papyrus documents in hopes of discovering her recently deceased father's work. For the reader, the book allows discovery in the great depth of information that is given on the Nag Hammadi Gospels and in the history of Christianity itself. Still, this path of knowledge is somehow also a re-discovery for the reader, for he/she is retouching any and all questions that have ever arisen in regards to faith. For the world, Malarkey has discovered a branch of fictional literature that brings together spirituality, history, and a great story. At the heart of what is gained by the world, is the way this story captures the re-discovery of ancient texts and long forgotten Christian ideals, all parts of the book which are based on actual events, findings, works, etc.
In my own soul searching, faith questioning, and life re-evaluation which this book invokes, I cling to a subject which I often find to be distasteful. Gender relations is a subject of history that I have made a career of avoiding, yet while reading Resurrection, I find myself drawn to the history of female involvement in religion. Malarkey argues that it was Christianity that took power away from the female. Prior to the creation (by man) of this particular lasting strain of Christianity, women were a source of great power, strength, and religious meaning.
My first reaction to this argument takes me back to a course that I took in my first undergraduate experience, "Old Testament/Hebrew Bible." In this course, I received the first real hurdle in my faith. The reality of the Bible being written by people other than who they claimed to be, illuminated the fact that religion was created by people, and the Bible was just another primary source. The Old Testament speaks to the limitation of women, especially in Genesis and Leviticus. Quickly I came to the conclusion that Malarkey has forgotten the guidelines of the Old Testament, and its innate sense of crippling women. For goodness sakes, women were not even allowed into the walls of the temple, only the in the courtyard. Because Christianity derives from the Judaic religion, it of course follows the same sense of dis-empowering women.
As I delve deeper into the ideas of women and the impact which Judaism made on the ancient world, I realize that so many more religions were indeed embracing women. The multitude of powerful female goddesses seemed to have such large roles in the lives of their people. Even a place like Athens, where women were known to not have a particularly powerful or even meaningful role in society, the patron deity was Athena, goddess of wisdom. There is not a single powerful female figure in the New Testament, other than the Virgin Mary and Elizabeth mother of St. John the Baptist, both of which are essential in the mystical deification or canonization of these characters. The Old Testament, though still not fully embracing women as normal holders of power, presents many strong female figures including Ruth, Ezra, and Esther just to name those who have books named for them.
Malarkey's most controversial yet moving message is one of sexuality. It is well thought that many "pagan" religions embraced the act of sexual intercourse as transcendental and even sacred. Malarkey brings to the forefront that sex was the tool with which women gave men power, even in societies which had stronger male rulers. This idea really makes sense when you break it down. A man steals a woman' s virginity because there is something gained for him, and somehow I know it is more than just the momentary pleasure. The act of rape is so brutal because it is the act of taking power away. According to Malarkey, it was a sin in the time of Jesus to be celibate. She delineates from this fact that he therefore was most likely not celibate. The underlying question here is, why then does Christianity take all dignity, power, and beauty from women and at the same time preach celibacy?