I’ve been at this blog for just over 2 years and while there have been things I’ve liked about WordPress, there have also been things I disliked.
For Mother’s Day, James bought me my own domain name. So please come join me at my new home:
I’ve been at this blog for just over 2 years and while there have been things I’ve liked about WordPress, there have also been things I disliked.
For Mother’s Day, James bought me my own domain name. So please come join me at my new home:
Vampire lore and history thereof is not something I’ve spent much time studying or know much about. But, from what I’ve read, historically the term “vampire” only came about a couple of centuries ago. Prior to that, there were various versions of the demon-like raised corpse that consumed the life-force (usually blood) of living people. In Europe it was common to believe such risen corpses came about because the person when they were living were witches or had lived sinful lives and such. Cultures all over the world for millenia have had legends along the lines of vampires. However, it seems to be only in the past couple of centuries that legends have had new vampires created by being bitten by a vampire.
I find this especially interesting. It seems like, for millenia, whether or not a person or a body could become a vampire depended upon the choices of the person or those who buried the body. It seems (please show me if you think I am wrong) a recent interpretation that a new vampire could be created by the vampire’s bite or, in other words, against the the consent of the victim. This is evident in the most well-known vampire story, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and it continues today. But to the Christian, it is problematic. The Christian believes in a loving and merciful God who gives every human being free will to choose salvation. The very idea that a human being could be damned without being able to choose otherwise is incompatible with Christian theology.
In some sense, this is where I think Meyer’s Twilight puts a Christian adaptation on the modern vampire lore. In The Twilight Saga, the question of whether or not vampires have lost their souls and are damned or whether or not what they do as vampires matters is a crucial question. Meyer accepts the interpretation that some vampires are created against their own consent, indeed most of them. But, by any Christian interpretation, it then becomes necessary to conclude that Edward and the other vampires are not automatically damned by a merciful Christian God and their judgment has not yet happened. Though they are dead, their soul remains unjudged and because they are not automatically damned, they retain the reason and conscience of their human souls. Thus Carlisle, Edward, Rosalie, Emmett, Jasper, Tanya and her sisters, Alice and Bella can choose to “live” on animal blood and not hurt any human beings.
Some of the criticisms I’ve heard about Twilight are that Meyer takes a “traditional villain” and confuses the reader by making him a hero, suggesting that evil things can be good or that the heroine choose “damnation” just to be with Edward. Meyer directly addresses the concern of the second criticism within the book and although she doesn’t give the reader a complete and direct answer, she does explain, particularly through Carlisle, how things seem to be and, it seems for her, should be. The first criticism is more complicated. In some sense, yes, it is true she does that. But, likewise, in some sense I don’t think she is to blame. It seems to me that she is simply following through on the modern interpretation of vampires through the lens of Christian truth. Either a person has some choice about whether or not to become a vampire or they have some say in their eternal destination after they become a vampire. Any Christian who believes in a merciful God who gave free will cannot have it any other way. In Dracula, Mina is every bit the victim of Dracula and never chooses to suffer as she does nor would she choose to become a vampire as Lucy does. If Van Helsing and Jonathan and the others had not acted, where would the Christian God be for Mina? (And anyone who has read Dracula cannot doubt Stoker was a Christian.) Dracula presents a very real dilemma for the Christian. Maybe not everyone would come to the same answer, but Meyer’s answer is that vampires have not been judged and have a conscience such that they still can choose salvation or damnation.
Personally I find this makes the existence of a vampire so much more difficult than a human. A vampire’s nature is indeed to hurt human beings but likewise a human being’s nature is fallen and naturally inclines toward sin. BUT! Human beings only have to strive to be holy for one lifetime. A vampire would need to persevere through that daily struggle for “eternity” or until he or she were destroyed. That is a long struggle.
As I said in my original post about the Twilight Series, I don’t think it is for children. I don’t think the books are perfect. But I do think they are an enjoyable read and have some good and even fascinating considerations. I thought I’d share this one with you and see if anyone else had any thoughts on the subject, especially if that someone is more verse in vampire lore than I am. In general, it isn’t a preferred subject of mine, but I cannot help but appreciate The Twilight Saga Series.
Aside from an invasion of the stupidest ants in creation in our kitchen, I’ve been busy reading a lot lately. I read the entire Twilight Saga series in less than 3 weeks. All ~2500 pages. It isn’t that impressive though as it was definitely not a slow read. Now, I am not usually the vampire-reading type. I’ve read Bram Stoker’s Dracula, but that is really the extent of my vampire reading. James and I had watched the films Twilight and New Moon and while I definitely thought the films had much room for improvement, it piqued my curiosity about the books. After all, the books are usually better than the films.
So I bought myself a hardcover (I always prefer hardcover) of Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. The book was certainly better. At least in the book when Bella says she is like his own brand of heroine it is intended to be funny. The book also has less violence than the film and, not surprisingly, better exposition. Having enjoyed the first book, I knew I’d want to finish reading the series, so I bought the remaining three.
New Moon I tended to speed read through a bit, until the last 50 pages or so anyway. Having seen the first two films, I was becoming more curious about the 3rd and 4th books which I knew would be completely new to me. It didn’t take me long to read through Eclipse and Breaking Dawn. Breaking Dawn took me aback when I read a phrase Meyer used to refer to the villains. She describes them as concerned about maintaining their reputation as “saints” and being able to keep their “white hats.” Considering the villains are a group of old Italian men who abuse the trust the vampire world has put in them to expand their power and wealth under the pretext of serving others, I could not help but think that this sounded a bit like a criticism of the Roman Catholic Church. Now, Meyer is a Mormon who lives in Phoenix so perhaps she was using the word “saints” in a general way and the “white hats” reference was of a more western connotation. I don’t know. But as a Catholic, that isn’t what came to mind. I can only hope it was not her intention to put my dear Church as the villain of her story and wish she had left the references out so it would not have occurred to me as a possibility. The reference is only made twice towards the end of the final book, I just wish it wasn’t there at all.
That said, I really enjoyed the books. Like the Harry Potter series, they are not for the younger set. Though Meyer, thankfully, leaves the more intimate scenes to the reader’s imagination, the story does involve vampires and “werewolves” and people that don’t always make the best choices. A story for children it is not. However, if you can separate the Twilight Saga Series from other vampire stories, lore or cultist references, it can be an enjoyable read.
In the end, it is a love story between the klutzy but perceptive Bella Swan and the attractive, old-fashioned “vegetarian” (he only drinks animal blood) vampire Edward Cullen. The creativity in the books was a draw for me. The exposition and thought she gave to the characters, their backgrounds, and how things work and happen was interesting, similar in that sense to Rowling’s creativity in the Potter Series.
But my biggest fascination was the character of Edward Cullen (and he seems to be of great interest to many other fans). He is an old-fashioned perpetual 17-year-old who is always polite and very mature. But what fascinated me about him was the way he loves Bella. His care and attention to her seems to know no limits. He is always concerned about her, always wondering what she is thinking. He loves to talk with her or just watch her sleep. He loves when she blushes or when her heart begins racing (no, not because he is thirsty). He is very protective of her and spends every moment possible with her. But it is not only this that made me take notice. He is infinitely understanding of her human limitations and cannot hold anything against her. (**spoiler**)When his rival for her tricks her into a passionate kiss with the threat of suicide, she hates herself and is convinced Edward will be hurt and angry. Edward comforts her that he isn’t angry and understands why she did what she did. “You are only human.” Edward’s understanding of Bella’s human faults and frailty give him a uniqueness not often seen and, in this regard, he reminded me of the merciful Jesus. It made me wonder how often spouses take such an understanding toward their own spouse’s human faults. It made me wonder how often people do towards anyone. Would Christ be so kind to us? Should we be so to others? It is a compassion so moving it is hard to ignore or brush aside and made be stop and think.
While Edward is not faultless, he is a very unique character and one I have a hard time getting out of my head. But I’m not sure I want him out of my head. I can’t help feeling like there is something there that not only fascinates me but makes me question myself. It is not hard to see why Edward Cullen has such a following. His protection of her virtue is why he won’t unless she marries him. He is very much a gentleman. The fact he has such a following does suggest that maybe girls and women in America really do want more from modern American boys and men but that would be a different and much longer post.
With Spring in full force we’ve been trying to do a bit of gardening. With three little ones, I’m not feeling as ambitious this year as I was last, especially since we will be moving this summer. But the front could use a few improvements, so the girls and I got to work.
She was fascinated by the set up.
Cecilia calls our front lawn “my garden.” Unfortunately the sheer number of bees, of various kinds, made us work swiftly and get back inside quickly. The colors on Elizabeth’s bassinet seemed to attract them and I cannot tolerate massive carpenter bees hovering over my 9 month old. But at least we all got out and the plants made it in the ground.
I hope everyone had a very blessed Easter week. Here are some pictures from our Easter.
Since we love the wooden train sets and our girls seem to find endless ways to play with them, we decided to give them one big set to share. Cecilia was always faster ripping off the wrapping paper than Felicity.
Elizabeth didn’t quite understand what was going on. Every time I pushed this present to her she just slid it right back to me. I’m not sure if she thought it was a game or was trying to stand up holding on to it and it was just too light.
When I was pregnant with Elizabeth, Cecilia understood that there was “a baby in mommy’s tummy” and she understood the baby came out when Mommy was in the hospital. But she has added her own interpretation.
Earlier this week, we were looking through a small children’s Bible and we got to the picture of the Annunciation, especially fitting this week. We talked about how the figure on the left was an angel and the one on the right was Mary and the angel was telling Mary that she was going to have a baby in her tummy and the baby would be Jesus.
Cecilia turned the page and the next page was of the Holy Family at the Nativity with Mary and Joseph holding a little infant Jesus. Cecilia said, “POP!” I asked, “Pop?” and she said, “POP! The baby was in Mary’s tummy and then it pops and the baby comes out.”
Not a bad understanding really for a four year old. It bears the truth of the matter, unlike a stork scenario, but keeps it simple and not frightening.
Overheard this morning:
Cecilia had finished breakfast and James was just finishing.
“Daddy, you want to play with me? It’s okay, my Mommy will clean up.”
Yesterday, in a rare victory, I got all three girls asleep at the same time. After the appointed time, I was still having trouble getting them up. When I finally did get them up, neither woke up particularly happy but more cranky. When I told Cecilia that she had fallen asleep for over an hour she corrected me. “Mom, I didn’t sleep! I rested!” She was passionately adamant that she didn’t sleep but only rested. I didn’t argue as she was grouchy and the point was moot but, for the record, all three girls were asleep for over an hour yesterday and it was a nice treat for Mommy!
Elizabeth turned 9 months this week and she had her 9 month check up today. She is doing great. She is 17 pounds, 11.5 ounces. She feeds herself peas, broccoli, chicken, rice, roasted beef, pasta, bread, bananas, peaches, pears, cheerios, french fries and even pizza. She crawls like a pro, pulls herself up standing, cruises along the furniture and can even stand up without holding on to anything for a few minutes. She says numerous sounds but I think “dada” is her favorite. She knows her name and seems to even have picked up on what the word “no” means. In short, she is doing very well. Even her sleep has even improved over the last couple of months. She still wakes a couple times a night, but she doesn’t nurse to sleep anymore and it is so precious to have her cuddle on my shoulder and rest her head on my arm and go to sleep curled up on or next to me. I cannot believe her first birthday is less than 3 months away.
We watched New Moon, the Twilight Legacy sequel. I was quasi enjoying it until the last hour when things seemed to get a bit strange and far-fetched. I’m curious to read the first Twilight book. The first film was better than I expected though lines like, “you are my own personal brand of heroine” left us cracking up. I’m hoping the book is better written. Anyone read it? Love it? Hate it? In between?
Cecilia has been doing very well with her reading lessons but we have run into a little challenge. The sound, “th.” She has a tendency to say “dat” or “dis” instead of “that” or “this.” She has been practicing just the “th” sound but it has slowed things down a bit. Otherwise she has been doing very well with her Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons book. She actually begs me to “do school work” with her every day. You cannot put a price on a child’s desire to learn.
I fell down the stairs this morning. Fortunately, I was not carrying any children when I fell. And I had to laugh afterwards because I fell on my rear and then proceed to slide down the stairs on my rear. I was still not awake enough to respond very well. However, the way I landed hurt my neck and head. I don’t recall hitting my head on anything but I think the way I landed on my backside may have had consequences for my spine up to my neck and head. I’ve been fighting of a headache ever since. The funny thing? My back has been sore all week until today. Dare I hope my stair slide was God’s way of fixing my back and my headache will just go away?
Cecilia is currently fascinated by the concept of a spork. lol.
Have a Blessed Passion Sunday Weekend!
Well, Spring has definitely arrived. We had a week of rain and now a week of sunshine with high temperatures in the high 60s and even into the low 70s. It has been absolutely gorgeous.
I brought the bassinet outside so Elizabeth could enjoy some fresh air too. Cecilia played Peek-a-Boo with her around the bassinet.
The girls love to draw and write with chalk on the deck. Cecilia draws pictures and practices writing letters, numbers and shapes. Felicity loves to color everything from the railings to the play box to the screen and windows.
I love how serious Cecilia’s face is while she is painting. And she did take it quite seriously. She didn’t want me to look at her paintings until she was completely done with them and needing a clean piece of paper.
I think she is scolding me for peeking but you can see how she didn’t just throw the colors up there on top of each other. She was deliberate in where she put each color. A far cry from what she was painting a year ago.
Once Elizabeth tired of the limitations of being in the bassinet, I had to bring her inside and I used the red wagon to block her from getting to the kitchen and the sliding door to the deck where her sisters were painting. She stood by it though trying to see them paint. She can stand on her own now without holding on to anything.
On Sunday, March 21, 2010, at 10:38pm, I was laying in bed. I had just gotten Elizabeth asleep and was trying to get comfortable myself. I decided to check, using my Ipod Touch, if the congressional vote had finished. I saw it had.
My heart sank. The arrogance. The stupidity. The greed. The hypocrisy.
When our nation began, it was so that people could govern themselves and our nation’s founders tried to set up a government so that the people would be protected from tyrannical rule. Our national government has gotten so big that it encroaches on the people. It puts burdens on people. It is so big, so complex, so wasteful that it sucks national resources in the name of service. The federal government has become a dominating force, an enemy of the people. The people are not governing themselves. Look at what had to happen to get this health care bill passed. George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, John Hancock, and the other great men of our nation’s birth would have been appalled that such threats, bribes, blackmails and deceit were used to pass such a bill, let alone the fact they blasphemed the Lord’s Day to do it. Those men were God fearing men. Our president and those who support him in Congress have no fear of God. Psalm 9 in this morning’s Breviery describes them well:
The wicked in their pride persecute the weak,
trap them in the plots they have devised.
The sinner glories in his desires,
the miser congratulates himself.
The sinner in his arrogance rejects the Lord:
“there is no God, no retribution.”
This is what he thinks
– and all goes well for him.
Your judgements are far beyond his comprehension:
he despises all who stand against him.
The sinner says to himself: “I will stand firm;
nothing can touch me, from generation to generation.”
His mouth is full of malice and deceit,
under his tongue hide trouble and distress.
He lies in ambush by the villages,
he kills the innocent in some secret place.
He watches the weak,
he hides like a lion in its lair, and makes plans.
He plans to rob the weak,
lure him to his trap and rob him.
He rushes in, makes a dive,
and the poor victim is caught.
For he has said to himself, “God has forgotten.
He is not watching, he will never see.”
Around 11:10, Felicity woke up crying. Since I was awake, I went to her and calmed her. I watched her fall back asleep. As my daughter lay sleeping, I thought of the thieves in Washington who are spending her future, who gamble with money she will have to pay, who waste money they don’t even have yet, and squander her inheritance. What will America be like for her? And, most likely, they will use the money of the people to kill the brothers and sisters of her generation. She is only 2 years old but she is just as American as those in Washington yet they have given no thought to her future, a future of debt, regulation, heavy taxes, lost lives. I was thankful that she could sleep peacefully while I pondered these concerns but one day these concerns will be hers as well. People love to shout, “Will someone please think of the children!” until it works to their advantage to disregard the children. Washington is throwing away our children’s future before they are even old enough to know it. Our government today is not good for us, not good for America, and certainly not good for our children.
Anyone else wish more national issues were put to a national election? Anyone else think that anything congress votes on MUST also apply to the members of Congress? Anyone else think any raise for any serving official should be voted on by the people they are serving? Is there any fairness in government anymore?
I’ve been trying for three weeks now to post seven quick takes but something always seemed to come up and I just never got them all done.
James and I think Felicity may have earned a new nickname. We may need to start calling her Snoopy. When she really lets loose and gets worked up, her laugh reminds us a lot of Snoopy’s unforgettable laugh.
I hung this:
Ever have one of those days when a child is throwing tantrum after tantrum and another child just won’t take her nap and you are not feeling well and you can just see your patience swirling its little tornado down the drain and then, unexpectedly, one of your children does something so sweet that you just melt and your patience fully recuperates. I love those moments. Here is what gave me mine.
Cecilia drew this. She brought it to me and said, “Mommy, I made it. This is for you. That’s Mommy and that’s Cecilia.” It is my first completely voluntary “Mommy and Me” picture. Now I really wish I can’t given her a dying pen to scribble with so I would feel justified throwing it out later, but when the pen wouldn’t write, Cecilia just kept at it until it did. Then, she gave made my joy overflow. She brought me this.
A month and a half later, the snow has all melted. Fortunately, I had already gotten the girls their spring rain boots because the spring rain is definitely here. The girls couldn’t wait to get outside. After all that snow plus the rain, our backyard resembles more of a swamp than a grassy yard but the girls have been out on the deck. I caught this picture when the girls had swapped vehicles. Cecilia, in her spring rain boots and Minnie Mouse hat is on Felicity’s train while Felicity, insistent on her winter coat, snagged Cecilia’s tricycle. The girls are eager to do some spring gardening. I’m getting excited about it too but I’ve told them I want to wait another week or two. We’ve had snow on Easter before so I just want to make sure we are past any freezing. Our past tulips, lillies and hyacinths seem to think that Spring is definitely here though!
Felicity refused to nap twice this week. One of those days she simply held out until an early bedtime. The other day though, she simply couldn’t make it. I tried to bribe her with some crackers to stay awake as it was simply too late for a nap but, well….
Then she began falling over so I carried her to the sofa. She slept about 30 minutes, just long enough for a power nap, and then woke up. When I tried to keep her up, she preceeded to be cranky and cry for about an hour. Oh why she needs that earlier nap!
Last weekend was a sad weekend for movies. I watched Precious and The Stoning of Soraya M. Precious is based on the “experiences” of a teacher with her students and Stoning is based on a true story. Both movies were about women who are considered worthless by some people. In both films, the women are abused both verbally and physically. But whereas Precious takes place in the US, Stoning takes place in Iran. Now, no matter what you think of either country, it is scarily sad how similar the films are in what happens to these women. Precious is beaten and raped by her father and Soroya is beaten and murdered by her husband. As depressing as these films sound, both strive to end on a note of hope.
For those who would justly criticize what Iranians did to Soroya, watching these films back to back, I cannot help but question how atrocities like what happen to Precious happen in the US. Yes, Soraya’s is public whereas Precious’ is behind closed doors, but how many people in Precious’ life never stopped to talk to her, help her. Many people mocked her, hurt her, assumed her difficulties were her own fault. The Iranians in Stoning do the same thing. Who could we talk to to see how they are doing? Who could we help? Soraya died because an unfair law and culture allowed some cruel men to manipulate other unfair men. We have unfair laws and an unfair culture too. We have cruel and unfair men.
There is not much I can do about the laws or cruelty in Iran but these films help illuminate that it is because of what happened to these people that everyone should be involved, everyone should strive to be involved. As Edmund Burke said, “Evil will prevail when good men do nothing.”
Both films are difficult to watch but both are well done. Stoning, especially, should be seen as the harsh truth of it’s story should not be ignored and cannot be written off.
Are you getting March Madness? We are watching here. GO DUKE!
More Quick Takes at Conversion Diary.
For his class, James needs to assign a trip to a museum and when he saw an ad for an exhibit that would be on display at the National Gallery of Art on Spanish religious art, it seemed like a good time to make a trip to the District.
The exhibit James was particularly interested in, The Sacred Made Real, was wonderful. The statues of St. John of the Cross and St. Ignatius Loyola and a life-size crucifix were especially amazing. Just beautiful. We were not permitted to take photos in this exhibit, so I have none to show you. But here are are my favorites as taken from their website in the order I listed above:
The gallery has an especially nice collection of french paintings. I couldn’t get over how detailed many of them were even when they were no bigger than a sheet of paper. The highlights of the french paintings though had to be the Monets and the Renoirs. Oh, so awesome!
Monet’s Japanese Footbridge was especially beautiful.
I also thought it was really neat to be able to see this Seurat so close up!
I was excited to have an Olivia moment when we spotted this Pollock:
Olivia insists she could do such a painting easily and attempts to do so when she gets home on the wall. “Time Out,” indeed! I thought this painted wooden piece was very impressive. If you’ve seen the film Glory, this is of the real Robert Shaw (Matthew Broderick’s character) and the 54th Regiment.
If only we had such a president now. :::sigh::: Now, I admit the girls weren’t as excited by all the pieces as we were. They certainly recognized Jesus and Mary in some of them and pointed out horses or dogs or cats or children in them. They also enjoyed the gardens.
Overall it was a really nice trip. We were at the Gallery almost four hours before the girls began conspiring against us, but, considering we went as a family, all five of us, four hours is not bad.
I do one to mention one find I am so excited about. In the Gallery’s book store we found No One Saw by Bob Raczka. It is a wonderful book with beautiful full color reproductions of 16 artist’s paintings and how those artist’s had their own creative and unique view of life. Okay, I took this picture quickly on my computer, so the letters are backwards, but it says, “No one saw stars like Vincent van Gogh.”
It is a wonderful beautiful book that not only gives kids big colorful reproductions of these works of art but tells them that each artist’s view is different and worth taking a look at and just as each of them saw something special, your view is special too. Love this book.
We didn’t quite get to everything, so hopefully we will get back to finish sometime soon but I hope you enjoyed our trip to the National Gallery of Art and hope you can enjoy a trip there sometime too.