Saturday, January 29, 2011

I *love* pot roast!

Sometimes things can be found in the strangest places.

Uncle Pookie and I recently watched Freaks and Geeks for the first time. It's a shame we missed it when it was on TV because it's easily the best TV show about high school ever (Buffy is a contender but goes past high school). Fortunately, the whole series is now available on DVD and well worth watching.

So is it just me or is there a great depiction of traditional, Christian marriage near the end of episode 10? See the scene I'm thinking of in this Youtube clip, beginning around the 3:25 mark. The setup for the scene is that, encouraged by another parent, the father and mother of our main characters secretly read their daughter's diary. They find no evidence of the kind of wrongdoing they feared, but they do learn their daughter thinks of them as boring bourgeois automatons. This upsets the mother, who starts trying to make some changes to their routine.

It's the Christian ideal of leadership--maybe a bit of chivalry too--given expression by a Midwestern, sporting goods store owner on a show with the word "freaks" (i.e. burnouts) in the title. Unexpected, but sweet.

Friday, January 28, 2011

A Story for Corpus Christi--Really Early

A while back, while returning from a trip to the coast, my husband and his friend were talking geek stuff and my mind was wandering somewhere far outside the car window, when it suddenly came back inside just in time to catch the tail end of a mini-rant from our friend on comics or Transformers or something: "The main problem I have with it is they should have paid more attention to it. I mean, he basically ate God. You can't do that and not have it affect you!" My husband looked over (at least his voice sounded as if he looked over) and said, "You should become Catholic."

Quote of the Month

I've been rereading Lord of the Rings, something I wish I'd done years ago (I did listen to a big chunk of the Fellowship audiobook a while back ), as it seems better than it did when I was in high school. Despite the annoying tendency of movie images to invade my mind from time to time, it's been really enjoyable so far. The Two Towers especially so, as it seemed to tear along at a surprisingly fast pace compared to the other two books. Here's my quote of the month, taken from it:

'...How shall a man judge what to do in such times?'

'As he ever has judged,' said Aragorn. 'Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men. It is a man's part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house.'

Monday, January 03, 2011

An Easy Resolution For Us

Okay, so it's January 3rd and pretty much everybody who was going to make a New Year's resolution has already made one or given up on the idea or both. But in the unlikely idea there's anyone still looking for an idea, might I suggest something: praying before meals (aka saying grace, asking the blessing), even if you're in public.

I live in the Bible Belt, a part of the country whose religiosity is apparently so intense as to offend people on the East and West Coasts, and I have hardly ever seen prayer in restaurants, cafeterias, and such. As a child I, like most of my classmates, was taught to pray before meals at home; it's often the first prayer people teach their children. But for the most part we didn't pray before meals in public areas. (Church gatherings would be an exception here.)

People who I knew were church-goers and who I'm pretty sure prayed before meals in their homes never seemed to do so in public. It's almost as if it were taboo to pray in public, but most of the people I grew up with were proponents of prayer in the public schools, so there goes that theory.

I figure skipping the before-meal prayer in public is either habit or they're too embarrassed to actually do it.

What's to be embarrassed about? I can only call recall a couple of instances where I definitely saw someone who was alone pray before a meal in a public area and both times I thought better of them, although I was not a practicing Christian myself. Once was when I was a teenager in a MacDonalds and a man who was obviously a drifter of some sort sat down with his meal and began to address his Heavenly Father so loudly that pretty much everyone turned to look. I don't recommend this, but I thought no worse of him for it.

The other was when I saw an older woman at my workplace sitting with her lunch in the employee lounge bow her head and move her lips in silent prayer before she began eating, and I thought, "Good for her". She was a nice lady and as far as I could tell she always prayed like that, whether she was eating alone or with others. I loved that she didn't compromise her beliefs just because she happened to be in public.

Gratitude is the fundamental religious instinct. Even people with no religious training--or who have rejected what they received--feel the need to give thanks at times. It's an instinct worth nurturing. "Ungrateful" is an insult in every part of society. That's the reason a before-meal prayer is often the first prayer people teach their toddlers, right along with the "please" and "thank you" they're teaching them to say to humans. Those expressions are not empty ones.

An article in a pagan magazine I saw a long time ago said that "please" and "thank you" are actually manifestations of a profound truth: noone owes you anything. Noone owes you, so when you ask for something, you acknowledge that by asking nicely. Noone owes you, so when they give you something, you express gratitude; they didn't have to give it to you, but they did.

If we say thank you to the stranger who tells us what time it is or a friend who passes us a cup of coffee, how much more should we say it to God, the one who gave us everything? If he gave you the intelligence to get yourself to the restaurant and earn the money to pay for the meal and the good fortune to live in a country where there's abundant food to buy, why not a little thank you, even if there are people around who might see and suspect what you're doing. If you're Catholic, cross yourself afterward and let 'em see. It might remind them to think about the things they're grateful for.