We Live in a Beautiful World

I have been watching this video several times a week for the last month.  It is a fanvid about Black Sails that presents many of the show’s most tragic scenes building in emotional intensity as a woman sings “we live in a beautiful world” louder and louder over the chaos.  I have a tendency to start accidentally crying while watching, and while I’m sure a huge amount of the emotional drive comes from being intimately acquainted with these characters, I’m sharing it here anyway.

It is the visual embodiment of my theology.

A couple years ago, I was quite obsessed with the theme of hope found in The Lord of the Rings (especially here and here), and in particular, this quote from The Two Towers:

Sam: It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo, the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn’t want to know the end because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end it’s only a passing thing this shadow, even darkness must pass. A new day will come, and when the sun shines it’ll shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you, that meant something even if you were too small to understand why. But I think Mr. Frodo, I do understand, I know now folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going because they were holding on to something.

Frodo:  What are we holding onto, Sam?

Sam:  That there’s some good in the world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.

This was particularly meaningful when I was emotionally preparing to move to Greece and to work in an anti-trafficking organization.  It was necessarily personal and a little self-centered.  I needed to find MY hope, the hope that would allow ME to choose the scary option and walk forward.

This video about Black Sails?  It’s broader.  I think it touches me so much right now because there isn’t a personal tragedy I’m working through – instead I am surrounded by other people’s tragedies.  Husbands dying, babies dying, hurricanes, white supremacists, mothers with post-partum depression, friends with undiagnosable illnesses, and enough people with anxiety and depression to remind me that for so many people, we live in a scary and overwhelming world.

And…we do.  We definitely do.  That’s why this video shows scenes of betrayal, heartbreak, violence, fear, and death.  But the thing that keeps me obsessed with this show, and with this video in particular, is that in the midst of this awfulness, there is an insistent theme that despite all this, “we live in a beautiful world.”

I think this is the most beautiful thing that Christianity offers.  Christianity says yes, this world is broken, and you are guaranteed to bleed when you brush against anyone or anything.  But Christianity says that inside that brokenness is beauty.  God created the world and it was good.  When it was broken it did not become evil, it just became a good thing broken.  And a thing that is broken can be fixed, which is exactly what God promises is happening and will someday happen in fullness.

So I cannot help but be overwhelmed by this video.  I cannot help but say, in hope, YES to the fact that we live in a beautiful world while watching destruction.  There is nothing that inspires me more than staring into something ugly and affirming the beauty that it was, is, and will become.  Christianity is a religion of paradoxes, and this is the one that touches me deepest.

The world is horrible, and we live in a beautiful world.

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Instagram Recommendation List

In my latest Podcast Recommendation List, Kim commented and requested that I do a similar post about Instagram.  I love fulfilling readers’ wishes, so here you go!  Five people I follow on Instagram that I think other people might like following too.

@lifeinbloomphotos

This Midwestern instagrammer posts simple pictures of life in the country:  leaves, sunsets,dandelions, farmhouses.  The photos are simple and pretty, and they remind me of everything I love best about my homeland.

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@andrewknapp

Momo is the cutest dog on the internet, and I cannot help but feel happy every time a new post appears of her (his?) expressive black and white face.screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-3-58-52-pm


@icelandair

Iceland is at the top of my list of must-visit countries, and this Instagram account fuels my desire with each new picture of stunning mountains, ice blue lagoons, and sweet cityscapes.screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-3-56-49-pm


@sejkko

This Instagrammer specializes in minimalist photos that make my heart feel peaceful.  Therapy in an app.

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@hotdudeswithkittens

With all this natural beauty, it’s only fitting to appreciate the male form too, right?  And it is a scientific fact that male forms always look better with a kitten!

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What Instagram accounts do you like?  

Leave a recommendation in the comments below!

StumbleUpon Sunday (16)

StumbleUpon is a great way to lose hours of your life.  Luckily, I braved the Internet vortex so you don’t have to.  This week I found these especially interesting websites:

  1. Neonflames
    Swirl different colors around and make a galaxy!  This is completely mesmerizing.
    download
  2. 15 Multifunctional and Ingenius Furniture Designs Ever Made
    I want the couch/bed/desk and the desk bike!
  3. Out of the Ordinary Beauty Tips That Work
    Toothpaste on yellow nails, powdering greasy hair roots, brown sugar treats dandruff, and more weird (and cheap) solutions!
  4. On the Madness and Charm of Crushes
    This article is brilliant!  “The crush reveals how willing we are to allow details to suggest a whole.”  I readily admit that I take one gesture or sentence and automatically construct prince charming.
  5. TRENDS: 50 Fun Facts about Languages
    I especially liked the facts about endangered languages and the shout out to Tolkien’s 12 created languages.
  6. 30 Flat Design Color Palettes That Just Work 
    Very handy colors schemes for arts or crafts or home decorating!
  7. 10 Awesome Infographics for Graphic Designers
    Some of these are too specifically tailored for graphic designers, but the Psychology of Color (first one) is fascinating!
  8. Ink – Quotes about Writing by Writers
    “A writer lives, at least, in a state of astonishment. Beneath any feeling he has of the good or evil of the world lies a deeper one of wonder at it all. To transmit that feeling, he writes.” -William Sansom
  9. Most Beautiful Villages around the World
    This list wins points for largely ignoring picturesque European villages and instead finding beauty in poorer towns in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.
  10. 22 Incredible Photos of Faraway Places
    India, Yemen, Cambodia, Afghanistan…these pictures are stunning.

StumbleUpon Sunday (15)

StumbleUpon is a great way to lose hours of your life.  Luckily, I braved the Internet vortex so you don’t have to.  This week I found these especially interesting websites:

  1. 10 Incredible Thrill-Seeking Adventures To Do Around the World
    I will never do any of these because I am a big coward.  Maybe the wing walking.  But only on a dare.
  2. 29 Mind-Blowing Coincidences You Won’t Believe Happened
    I’m naming my son Hugh Williams.
  3. Dog and Lamb
    A boxer frolicked with a lamb, and there are pictures!
  4. What It’s Like to Fly the $23,000 Singapore Airlines Suite Class
    Oh my GOSH this is the most amazing thing I’ve ever read.  Someday when I’m flush with cash I will spoil myself silly on the world’s most expensive flight.  The guy who wrote this has a great sense of humor, too.  I especially loved his horror at sleeping for six hours, or “$6,000 worth of the flight.”
  5. 14 Brilliant Pieces of Literature You Can Read in the Time it Takes to Eat Lunch
    I love this list of bite-sized literature.  It is especially useful for its links to places you can read the story for free.
  6. ‘Real Monsters’ Art – Mental Illnesses as Monsters
    Wow.  These creatures are really beautiful, in a horrible way.  The artist, Toby Allen, does a wonderful job making mental illnesses understandable.
  7. 26 Gifs So Cute You Might Die a Sudden, Tragic Death
    Death by adorable is a good way to go.  (Hint: click on #5 to see a whole video of this tiny orange kitten climbing up to sit on a cameraman’s head. And #11 IS SO CUTE.  Just, all of them.  Look at all of them.)
  8. 12 Interspecies Hugs That Show That Love is Universal
    More cuteness!  I’m especially awed by the lion and the fawn, but there’s also the cat and the owl!  And that last picture of a koala sleeping on a dog’s back is super adorable.
  9. 10 Mnemonic Tricks for Never Forgetting Anything Again
    Super useful!
  10. What Real Beauty Looks Like Around the World
    These photos of diverse women in their 20s are a stunning reminder to embrace your culture and background.

StumbleUpon Sunday (14)

StumbleUpon is a great way to lose hours of your life.  Luckily, I braved the Internet vortex so you don’t have to.  This week I found these especially interesting websites:

  1. 15 Animals That Aren’t Dogs, But Totally Want to be Man’s Best Friend
    This kind of content is exactly what the Internet is for.
  2. Man Walks All Day to Create Massive Snow Patterns
    I love when artists create something beautiful knowing that it will be transient and unseen.
  3. 13 Life-Changing Beauty Hacks Using Vaseline
    “Life-changing” might be strong, but these vaseline-inspired tips are definitely useful!
  4. Maps of War: Middle East
    WOW.  This 90-second video zips through history, showing all the empires and kingdoms who have taken over the Middle East, starting with Egypt and ending with national independence.  Never has this made so much sense.
  5. 18 Spectacular and Bizarre Airbnb Rentals
    Someone give me all the money!  I need to stay in every single one of these.
  6. This Man Found a SECRET Tunnel in His House
    An underground city 18 stories deep!?  With shops, tombs, livestock and individual quarters?  I want that at my house!
  7. 18 Irritatingly Bothersome Movie Plot Holes
    I’m going to try to forget these as quickly as possible, because they are so right.
  8. 17 Diagrams That Will Help You Draw (Almost) Anything
    Some are useful, some are funny.  Like the Internet.
  9. Six Before and After Pictures That Show Why You Should Adopt a Shelter Dog
    RIGHT IN THE HEART.
  10. 23 Super Creative Repurposed Items
    These are so cool!  I want the card catalogue mini bar and globe bowl.  And suitcase chair!