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In Memorandum

Well, this last week saw The End come. It’s over. Finito. Completed. Done.

Of course I’m only talking about TV shows, nothing serious. But Monday night was the Series Finale of Alias. No. More. Alias. Ever. *sniff.* It was good though, even if there were a few tearful moments. It ended on a very good note, I thought. I shall miss it!!! But at least it ended neatly, instead of slowly dying off.

Wednesday was the season finale of LOST, my other great TV obsession. Brianne and I blogged all about what we thought about that on our Lostaholics blog (if you’re curious). But I had a lot of fun getting ready for that. I threw a little party; I confess, I might have gone a little overboard. There were seashells strewn all over the living room, and decorations consisting of palm trees, fake pineapples, and netting.

But I didn’t stop there. I decorated a bunch of cookies with things like the Numbers, waves, palm trees, S.O.S.’s, “Dharma” and “LOST.” And I couldn’t resist covering a bottle of Pepsi with a “Dharma Cola” label. I know, it sounds very silly, but I had so much fun doing it. I had the soundtrack from season one playing, and my brother even tried to use his smoke machine to add atmosphere (my mom nixed that pretty quick).

I so seldom throw parties, so it was fun. And I mean, it was a very small gathering. Which is probably why it wasn’t highly stressful.

Speaking of parties, I celebrated a birthday yesterday. My party was going to The Olive Garden. Mmmm. Love The Olive Garden. Love the music, love the soup, love the salad, love the chocolate lasagna….

For a while I was kind of depressed about my birthday (which sounds ridiculous, I know, I’m not that old), just feeling like another year has gone by without any big goals reached. Yes, of course, I’ve gotten a book into print, and I totally appreciate anyone who has bought it and read it. But it still seems like there could be more I’m doing with my life (perhaps instead of watching TV finales?). I thought I was alone in these kind of feelings, until I read the Bridget Jones books by Helen Fielding. Bridget obsessively recounts in her diary how much weight she’s gained or lost each day, along with how many cigarettes she’s smoked, how much alcohol she’s drunk, and any other habits, like thinking bad thoughts or checking the British equivalent of *69 to see who called her.

Actually, it was quite reassuring, reminding me to put things in perspective. And it was further reinforced by the message by our new Senior pastor at CW last night. In the spirit of Memorial Weekend, he encouraged us to be more thankful. That was something I kinda needed to hear. It’s so easy for me to look at my life and see so much left undone and unfulfilled, instead of remembering all the good things that have happened in my life so far.

I have a wonderful family who encourages me in my dreams of writing; friends who I can talk to about anything from TV to spiritual crises; a church where I am involved and am using my (meager) gifts to serve, and who also supports my writing; a new book out; a pair of cats that make me laugh; at least one job that I don’t dread going to in the morning; a car that works considerably well; a room crammed with books; a college degree that I’m not still paying off; and a relationship with my Creator and Savior that always amazes me.

So what if I’m in my mid-to-late twenties, still living at home, don’t have a boyfriend, could stand to lose some weight, haven’t been to Europe yet, and have a messy room? Are those things really as important as I make them out to be? I have been blessed in so many ways throughout my life. It’s always easy for me to see the negative, the areas where I fall short. But today, I celebrate the amazing life I’ve had. I don’t want to wait until I’m old—really old—to appreciate the good things in my life. So here’s my memorandum of 27 pretty amazing years. Thanks, God!!


The Angry Song

Remember about, um, ten years ago, there was this cartoon called “Anamaniacs”? I used to love that show. It was really funny—well, silly—and it had these three siblings who ran around and pulled pranks and sang songs about the capitals of the 50 states. Once, they sang a song about being mad. At least, it started out about being mad. It was like, “I’m mad, I’m mad, I’m reallyreallyreally mad…”

Well, yesterday that song was stuck in my head.

Why? you ask. What made you so mad that only a song could capture your turbulent emotions?

Well, it’s been building. I was forwarded a link to something Donald Miller wrote—about President Bush, republicans, and conservatives in general. His timing could not have been worse as far as I’m concerned. I’d been reading his “Searching for God Knows What” and that already made me more than irritated. I actually had to stop reading, put the book down, and move on. Breathe. Write. Vent.

I mean, okay, everyone’s entitled to an opinion. Obviously. I mean, I love giving my opinion on things.

But I was severely irked by Miller’s attitude. If you want to, you can read his article. But if you are conservative, be warned: you, too, will be singing the angry song. I went to a place where you could post comments about the article and proceeded to do so.

It seems to me that there is something going on within Christianity. A division of sorts. A chasm, if you will. A rift this deep has two distant sides, and, so it seems, no middle ground.

Personally, I am tired of the grand, sweeping, generalizations being made. I don’t like being lumped in—I never have. I’m sick of feeling like I have to choose a side, that I’m in a tug of war between Hilary Clinton and Jerry Falwell. I really don’t want to be associated with either of them. I don’t think I completely agree with any political party. You know why? Because nothing is perfect. And you know why that is? Because no one is perfect.

Salvation is not found in a political party or in its leaders. Or in its followers.

And everyone is going to have an opinion. Usually it will be in conflict with someone else’s. Does that mean we can’t get along? If I met Donald Miller, would I be able to have a civilized conversation? I would like to think so. We are, after all, brothers and sisters in Christ. I know we must have some theology in common.

The truth is, we have all been burned by those whose opinions were different from ours; we have all had those frustrating conversations that end up being a one-sided rant by someone who refuses to listen or think about anything other than what he has already made up his mind about. For me, those conversations have come from both sides of the political and religious spectrum. I’ve been just as frustrated by some conservatives I’ve known as I have with some liberals. Being annoying isn’t a trait exclusive to either party, unfortunately.

But what really gets me is this sudden, vicious turn of popularity against Conservative Christianity by the “relevant” and “post-modern” branch of Christianity. I’ve heard a lot of things lately that have really set my teeth on edge. Like I said, I’ve had my share of things that have bothered me about the conservative church. However, both of the good and the bad I’ve experienced has been the result of individuals. You can’t lump an entire branch of Christianity together and label it all “bad” or “malfunctioning.” That won’t solve anything. Actually, it creates problems: alienation and division.

We as a body ought to stop focusing on our differing political views. We are Americans, so we have an obligation to be involved in our country. But when it gets in the way of unity, perhaps we need to step back. At the end of the day, I think we all want the same things. We may go about it in different ways, but we are all reading the same Bible. We may have different interpretations, even different focuses, but the bottom line is, we’re part of the same Body. We have to work together. It’s not an option. Jesus, our Head, is already at work making us unified. Fighting over political stuff just gets in the way of that.

I could go on and on; but I won’t. Any more and I’d be on a rant of my own…and just doing the same thing I got so mad about. 

[Edit: I've since reconciled my opinion of Donald Miller...I think it's safe to say both of us have grown and been stretched and developed a little more grace & humility since these words were first written.  I would recommend "Blue Like Jazz" and "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years" to just about anybody.]