Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Re Miley Cyrus and Moral Judgments

I feel like there's a predictable cycle these days with "news" or semi-news or old news (RIP Neil Armstrong...still) or Breaking Bad spoilers on social media. First, the thing happens and everyone's talking about it. Then, everyone's talking about how everyone's talking about it. Then, everyone's talking about the one or two dumb dumbs who take the 'minority view' to be cool. Then, everyone's talking about how horrible it is that we're talking about it when X is happening over here.

Cue Miley Cyrus.

Last night I was writing the news round-up for Rhode Island and one of the stories I saw mentioned that the town of Warwick is raising money for a memorial to the 100 people who died in the Station Nightclub fire ten years ago. Remember that? When there were too many people inside and they got stuck in the doorway?

I spent the rest of the night clinging to Aaron's neck and trying to dam my mind flood of all the terrible things that happen all the time, and whether or when they will hapen to us and what they will be.

But when I went to bed, all I could see was Miley Cryus. Going to bed after the VMA's. Alone with her thoughts. With what she just did. I immediately sat upright in bed and said to a sleeping Aaron who never heard me - Aaron! Miley Cryus is alone somewhere right now! And that was almost as bad as the Station Nightclub fire in that minute.

I saw the Onion's article yesterday faking CNN Managine Editor Meredith Artley's reasoning for covering Miley's performance (performance?) at the VMA's. I understand why people take issue with its prominence in the headlines, but I do think it's news. Because this is where we are now. This is what we do. No one booed her. No one cut the feed. This is what we do now.

It's kind of unbelievable to me (though predictible) that we're so up in arms about it, though. The collective We usually pride ourselves on being rabidly non-judgmental, don't we? Aren't we the tolerant relativists your grandmother never had?

It's a legit question, this one: can we make moral judgments? About anything?

We certainly have about Miley Cyrus. And cigarettes. And pedophiles. And cheating on your taxes and going to war with Iraq and using your NSA title to snoop on your ex-boyfriend.

But then curiously, several other things are simply out of bounds. We must NOT make moral claims about homosexuality. We must NOT make moral claims about abortion. We must NOT make moral claims about art, or curriculums, or how the government spends its money.

I think we need to do some soul-searching, because I think we all know that we need to make moral judgments, not just about some things but about everything, about our role here in general; and in fact it doesn't matter whether we THINK we should because we do make these judgments every day.

Now, re: Miley:

When I was in kindergarten in Massilon, Ohio my priest's name was Father Kolp and he rode his bike everywhere. He had bright white hair and every year on the feast of the Assumption he prayed from the pulpit for Madonna. Yes, that Madonna. A few years back I finally asked my Mom why he did that (I remember assuming as a kid that all Catholic churches were praying for pop stars that day.) She said for some reason he had some special burden for her. Her mother allegedly named her for the Blessed Mother and she was so lost that it broke his heart, enough to pray for her from the pulpit every year at least.

So let's do that for Miley.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Las Vegas in Pictures

I'm in a funk this week and it's just no good. I know what I need and I can't do it, but I can dream about it. What I need is a rainy afternoon in the fall. Nobody needs me to be anywhere. Glazed donut holes. Louisville High School sweatpants and a sweatshirt that's too big for me. Nichole Nordeman's cover of "Time after Time" on repeat.

That's it. I can't have that though, and I am in a funk. In the meantime, I'm going to tell you all about Las Vegas. Last weekend we drove the four hours up to Nevada, a state Aar and I had never been to before, hurrah. My sister Jen and her husband and his brother are there this week for a convention so we went up to see them.

Please to enjoy the picture show.
Jen and I at dinner

Garden in the Wynn

New York New York. We rode the roller coaster.
Jen and I, the Wynn pool which was delicious

tulip sculpture - I think at the Palazzo?

A sleepy Aaron Michael and I shopping (and spending way too much money at Anthropologie) at Caesar's Palace, and a tower of delicious cupcakes. I got the Snickerdoodle and oh my. Yes to that.
Rainbow on the way home

Hoover Dam and a storm

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Even For Us

I was sitting in my office today, chugging away at all my little HR duties, when I had my usual morning epiphany that hey! I'm married to Aaron Baer! And I texted him to say HI (just like that) and he texted back and asked if I wanted to do lunch and I'm telling you, I was as excited as a 16-year-old getting asked out on a date to go see the second Lord of the Rings movie and smuggle in Starbucks in my purse and it spills but I don't care because it was carmel apple cider and that stuff smells gooood. (This may or may not have happened to me once).

It was a lovely lunch; we finally went to this Thai place by Aaron's work that he gets to go to all the time but I've never been to. Delish yellow curry, just the right amount of spicy (I am inherently distrustful of the "spice scale" they ask you to use but this one seemed pretty accurate, but also what do I know about curry spice scales.)

We talked about some articles and blog posts I've been reading online this week, and how they've been leaving me wringing my hands and grinding my teeth and longing to crawl back in bed. Because they hurt.

I read a lot of theology blogs and other "commentary" blogs on religion. Lots of religions. And I read writers from across the spectrum - some I agree with, some I believe are misguided, etc. I do try to keep an open mind. I want to learn.

But for some reason this week (every week), everyone is out for the Church (again.)

We're "Abusive." We're "Fake." "Hypocritical." "Old-fashioned." "Judgmental." "Failing."

These are Christians saying these things. This is Relevant Magazine. This is Rachel Held Evans.

And they've been said before; last week, and last year, and ten years ago, and twenty years ago, and twenty years from now. Ya'll, it's not new to criticize the Church. If you take nothing else away from what I'm writing here, PLEASE TAKE THAT. You're writing is unreadable with how novel you think you are. It makes my stomach hurt, I'm serious.

And so in response, my heart wants to say four things:

1. The Church is not always, categorically, wrong. In fact, the Church does a lot right. (Believing in Jesus, for starters?)

2. The Church does a lot of good.

3. The Church is a human institution.

4. God asked us to be a Church.

Have you ever heard that pithy little phrase people like to spit out on College Green and stuff, where they say "I considered being a Christian until I met one."? If that's you, and you're really saying you refuse to be a Christian and/or you left the faith because you came into contact with some really terrible Christians (they probably watched the Bachelor) I have to give you some tough love here, because presumably you're better than that. This would be akin to me saying "I really thought the science of chemistry was true but then I had a super mean chemistry professor so now I think it's all a bunch of bullshit." (I do secrectly think chemistry is bullshit.) Either Jesus died and rose from the dead or not. Whether you believe that should have everything to do with whether it's true and nothing to do with the actions and/or personalities of other people who believe it. (And it's true.)

And if you're someone who does believe in Jesus, but you're really fed up with the Church, please understand it's human. I understand holding it to a higher standard because of the moral claims we make; and that's appropriate. But if you are letting human pain and relational squabbles interfere with your belief in or communion with your Father - well that just doesn't compute.It's hurting everyone. It's hurting you.

And if it makes you want to spout off, and complain, and accuse, and diagnose; for you I'm reminded of this incredibly beautiful blog post by my brilliant friend Kate. (When I texted her for her help in locating that post, I couldn't believe it was 3 years ago. That post had such a huge impact on me - it felt like yesterday I read that! 3 years in your twenties is NOT like 3 years in high school and something about that feels very sad to me; sorry for getting off topic but oh man, aging, am I right?)

That post is such a gut punch. At some point, all of us self-appointed 'commentators' need to stop considering our rage-filled "criticism" constructive and start finding the line that we're crossing. The line beyond which this becomes ugly, and angry, and too much and too often and incorrect. The line beyond which we''re starting to feel entitled to the Bible and the Church fitting US.

The last thing I have to say is that "pretty writing" doesn't make "true writing." This keeps me up at night.

You are - we are - Christ's bride. We are His people. He delights in us. We are trying. We are beautiful.

So have some grace and love and patience - even for us.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

We Went to a Cabin, Etc.

It's been a while since I've written around here and I totally have a complex about it. You should see me when I haven't written in my journal in a while. My palms get really sweaty and I spend at least two pages apologizing first. (To a journal.) (Now try to imagine my prayer life. OOF!)

 Anyway it's just been a busy season, is all. We're in the middle of the busiest time of year at work, and AB and I have had our fair share of extracurriculars as well. (I even got an endoscopy, for fun! It was really great.)

 But here I am now, to write, to regale you with tales of Life on Libby Street and all related nonsense and things. Aaron is playing another riveting game of college basketball on Xbox and Jethro is napping while squarely facing the front door TO BE READY FOR INTRUDERS. And I just spent 20 minutes praying over a Bible verse Aaron assigned me this evening to deal with my frantic heart. It worked, and it made me want to write.

 So does this past weekend.

 I don't know how Aar and I keep finding ourselves surrounded by and loved on by these incredibly generous people. It occurs to me that in our relatively short time together, as college punks and now young married twenty-somethings with not much money, we've vacationed (and honeymooned) in an unbelievable condo in Fort Lauderdale (for free), we've spent every anniversary in swanky hotels at discount rates thanks to my first job and the connections I still have from it (shout out, Morgie), we've taken whirlwind trips to Hollywood and LA and hung out on rooftops and the sets of TV shows, we've stood on the dock the Titanic was built on, and now we've skipped town for a weekend in this breathtaking cabin up in Pinetop, AZ. Because someone offered it to us.

 Pinetop is just like, I mean, it is like, well I don't know. It's like a place where things LIVE. Not where they go to die (the desert.) It's green and rainy and hilly and high (6,000 feet or so, I'm told). The houses have carved wooden bears on the front porches announcing the owners' names. (Are the owners bears? This is a burning question) There are hanging plants. It stormed TWICE. There is a local barbecue joint. Why in the world is Phoenix where people decided Arizona's main city should be? This is what happens when I'm not consulted on these things.

 The porch of this place was bigger than our house; I didn't measure but I know it in my deepest heart of hearts and I am absolutely ok with it. This is the porch. LOOK AT THIS PORCH.

Seriously, we spent the entire weekend out there if you must know; even in the rain. We hammocked. We read books. I wrote some freelance assignments. We read our Bibles. We drank tea. We watched it storm. We talked about our favorite teachers in high school. We talked about the Lord. We talked about each other.

 We couldn't bring ourselves to leave, even for food, so we cooked all our meals in the kitchen inside, with a glass of wine never far away (well we cooked everything with the exception of the local barbecue, WORTH IT). And that's pretty much all we did. All weekend.

 Except we also watched Friday Night Lights.

 Ok listen, it's kind of getting out of hand with the Friday Night Lights at the Baer house. I have been wanting to write about it for a while because it MAKES ME FEEL FEELINGS but I haven't wanted to because I don't want some party pooper to say OH! I LOVE that show! and then proceed to tell me things about it that I don't know yet. (So don't be that guy, is what I'm saying, I will ban you from this blog. And then where will you go for your nonsense reading? HUH?)

Honestly, how do I write about this show? Shall I compare you to a summer's day, Friday Night Lights? Seriously I know I might sound dramatic and this might just be because we're still in the middle of watching it but I'm pretty sure this is my favorite show on television. Ever. (Star Wars wasn't a TV show so we're good.)

 I'm going to write about why I love it and why it's going to save the world and why it's giving me renewed faith in humanity in a little bit. I have to collect my thoughts first. Also just an FYI I have loved Kyle Chandler ever since he was Gary Hobson getting tomorrow's newspaper today, so you can just back off, because we have a history. (My sister and I were so obsessed with that show that our neighbor, whom we used to babysit for, once saw a profile of Kyle Chandler in the newspaper and clipped it out and brought it down to our house for us. In the rain. This is what it's like to be me.)

 So for now, why don't you fire up your Netflix and start watching it so we can talk about it in a little bit.

Sorry I haven't written in so long (THE GUILT)