The Doubting Christian’s Starter Pack

Are you drawn to the story of a God who lives and dies full of love for a rebellious creation…yet find yourself wondering how it could possibly be true?  Have you grown weary of rules that seem to cause slavery rather than freedom?  Are you skeptical about the usefulness of “good news” that doesn’t seem so good?  Do you worry that the religion you grew up with doesn’t apply to a more diverse population?

Welcome to the Doubting Christians Club!

In a desire to provide a strong foundation for its members, the Church has often promoted a rigorous belief system that seems to leave little room for doubt…which can make doubters feel like they either need to leave the Church or else hide their doubts.  I don’t believe either of these options is a good idea for the Doubting Christian – the first because you will miss out on the beauty you are drawn to, and the second because you will live a double life that will slowly isolate and destroy you.

Luckily, there are others out there just like you (myself, for instance)!  Listed below is the Doubting Christians Starter Pack that will stretch your mind, give you hope, and assure you that you are not alone.

71891781|  O Me of Little Faith: True Confessions of a Spiritual Weakling by Jason Boyett  

This is the book that began my journey toward becoming comfortable with my doubt.    It was given to me, unasked for, by my pastor, which has earned him my undying respect.  In this book, Boyett gets honest about his doubts and comes to the conclusion that perhaps doubters are closer to God than those who never question their faith – after all, doubt is an inextricable part of a faith given to something unseen.

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Packing for a Year in Greece: Entertainment

Based on this blog, it should be obvious that I take entertainment very seriously.  Ingesting stories is how I grow and/or stay alive.  So when it comes to preparing to move to Greece, the majority of my planning has revolved around books and media.

The one problem?  I have to pack a year’s worth of possessions into two suitcases and a backpack.  While I would LIKE to take two suitcases full of books, even I know that is impractical.  So I’ve improvised.   Continue reading

My Life as a Nerd

My Google Drive is full of drabbles, short pieces I’ve written and quickly abandoned before they got anywhere significant.  This one was called “My Life as a Nerd,” and I totally forgot I wrote it last summer.  I will never finish it, and I wanted someone to see it, so Here, Blog!  Enjoy.


I’ve spent my whole life being a nerd because I learned, from the very youngest of ages, that fantasy is better than reality.  It’s not like I had an oppressed, horrible life.  I grew up in a firmly middle-class family: not rich enough to fly somewhere for vacation, but rich enough to afford the newest technological gadget that interested my dad (a case could be made for inherited nerdiness).

The thing is, I was an introverted, extremely shy kid.  Life was hard for me, even when “life” just meant standing in front of the preschool to show off a possession for Show & Tell.  I would agonize about what to bring, worrying about what each possibility would make people think of me.  My stuffed animals seemed to baby-ish, I would probably lose my Polly Pocket, and people would laugh if I told them my Scar action figure was my favorite character in The Lion King.  I couldn’t handle a 30-second presentation designed to create opportunities for tiny children to make friends.

In addition to being terrified of people, I have also always been desperate to impress them.  Reading was a great way to do both.  I could sequester myself in my room for hours at a time, and when I finally emerged to socialize with human beings, nearby adults would always coo and say things like, “Wow, you read more than me!  You’re so smart!”  To prove them right, I would pick up a new book and head back into hiding.   Continue reading

The Story of a Friendship: Elizabeth and Tricia

One of my best friends in college was Stephanie.  For a while, I spent the night every Thursday at her dorm, which meant I got to know her roommates pretty well.  One of those roommates was Elizabeth Waibel.  She was one of the coolest people I knew, and I assumed she thought I was mostly an idiot.  Well, if she did, joke’s on her, because it has been six years and now we are really good friends!

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2009

I don’t really know how we shifted from real life acquaintances to frequent Facebook conversationalists, but our mutual introversion definitely helps.  She is intelligent and snarky, which are two of my favorite qualities in a person.  She often posts culturally relevant statuses that challenge people to think more deeply, and she tags me in articles about feminism.  Internet besties!   Continue reading

What Are You Reading Wednesday #WAYRW (1)

What Are You Reading Wednesdays #WAYRW is a weekly feature started on It’s A Reading Thing. Everyone is welcome to participate. You can answer the questions in the comments section of the weekly #WAYRW post or link back to your #WAYRW post on your blog via the link up. You can grab the image above or create your own, just please make sure you link back to IART as the host for this meme.

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How to participate:
Grab the book you are currently reading and answer three questions:
1. What’s the name of your current read?
2. Go to page 34 in your book or 34% in your eBook and share a couple of sentences.
3. Would you like to live in the world that exists within your book? Why or why not?

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1. What’s the name of your current read?

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

2. Go to page 34 in your book or 34% in your eBook and share a couple of sentences.

“No,” I said, through the ache in my chest.  I will not cry in front of him.

He started to say something.  But at that moment the teacher entered, a man of indeterminate middle age.  He had the callused hands of a musician and carried his own lyre, carved of dark walnut.

“Who is this?” he asked.  His voice was harsh and loud.  A musician, but not a singer.

“This is Patroclus,” Achilles said.  “He does not play, but he will learn.”

“Not on that instrument.”  The man’s hand swooped down to pluck the lyre from my hands.  Instinctively, my fingers tightened on it.  It was not as beautiful as my mother’s lyre, but it was still a princely instrument.  I did not want to give it up.

I did not have to.  Achilles had caught him by the wrist, mid-reach.  “Yes, on that instrument if he likes.”

That’s the whole story.  People don’t value Patroclus until Achilles forces them to.  I LOVE IT.

3. Would you like to live in the world that exists within your book? Why or why not?

Hm.  On the one hand, ancient Greece!?  Where the gods and goddesses are subtly real but not in an overly flashy way?  The nerd in me screams YES, but then…ancient Greece!?  Where honor is bound up in your ability to kill someone (haha, just kidding, I’m a woman – I wouldn’t have any honor)?  Practically, no, I wouldn’t want to live in this book.  But I sure do like living in it via Miller’s story.

Book MASH

Sarah E. from Rocky Top Real Talk posted a challenge I couldn’t resist:  playing the book version of MASH.  For those of you not in the know, I can only assume you were not a girl in the 90s.  MASH (Mansion/Apartment/Shack/House) is a game that predicts your future!  I’ve played it hundreds of times, which is I guess all the evidence I need for the existence of parallel universes.  However, all those previous games pale in comparison to this one.

IMG_6185I’ve always played MASH with three good choices and one bad per category.  That way there’s an element of realism?  So while I might get the chance to marry Peeta, I might also have to ride a school bus home to Minas Morgul.  As you can tell from my potential choices, I leaned heavily on fantasy and sci fi books.

IMG_6187I am so happy with how things turned out!  Because my spiral of 8 wiped out most of the bad choices first, I wound up with a really great future!  I was sad to lose out on Huan and Taggle (a talking dog and cat respectively), I am quite happy to have a flying mechanical dragon for a pet.  The only category I’m disappointed in is my job.  Although I’m very glad I missed out on being a Tribute, I was kind of hoping for becoming a cyborg mechanic.  Oh well.

IMG_6188I’m super stoked to marry Eugenides (from Megan Whalen Turner’s The Thief series).  Having a one-handed husband who is whiny, adventurous, and better than you is pretty much exactly the kind of man I’m attracted to.  And I’ve always wanted to travel via Floo Powder!  Honestly, this all sounds like a really great book.  Someone write my future for me!

Try out a book MASH for yourself and let me know your future in the comments!

StumbleUpon Sunday (13)

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. 53 Books You Won’t Be Able to Put Down
    I cheered at the names of titles I loved and put several unknowns in my library queue.
  2. Young Girl Who’s Best Friends with African Wildlife
    I’m hyperventilating with how much I wish I had her life.
  3. Untranslatable Words Turned into Charming Illustrations
    I like those “if only English used this word” lists, but the addition of illustrations makes this so much better!
  4. Photograph
    I don’t normally link to a single photograph, but the simple whimsy of this outdoor space is so cute!
  5. Important Things from History Everyone Pictures Incorrectly
    The Egyptian pyramids were white, Greek statues were brightly painted, etc–time changes things!
  6. The Quest for Every Beard Type
    This is a man after my own heart – I’ve always thought there’s no point in being able to grow facial hair if you don’t experiment with it.
  7. Hope You Had a Better Day Than These Guys
    Sometimes all you need to feel better is a collection of pictures and GIFs showing you people who have it so much (hilariously) worse.
  8. The 50 Cutest Things That Ever Happened
    This title is no lie.  *squee*
  9. 23 People Posted the Wisest Words They’ve Ever Heard
    From “The single raindrop never feels responsible for the flood” to “By living, there’s a risk of dying.”
  10. Create Face Online
    What a weirdly addictive webpage.  My only complaint is that there don’t really seem to be options to create a female face.pimptheface-com

StumbleUpon Sunday (11)

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. Sound Composition: Calm Thunder Storm
    Want to enjoy the soothing sounds of rain and thunder without ruining your hair or soaking your shoes?  This site is all the good without the bad!
  2. Map of Literary Road Trips
    How cool!  Now you can relive the journeys of On the Road or Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance…or just hang this on your wall and look cool.
  3. I Has a Bucket
    HAHA, okay, this has no value apart from restoring some fond college nostalgia.  Maybe it also has historical value, as one of the Internet’s first memes?
  4. 15 Books Every High School Student Should Read
    I haven’t read six of the recommended books, but based upon the nine that I have, I think this list is a great starting place for choosing readable classics.
  5. Architectural Watercolors by Maja Wronska
    Any art that makes me say, “Um, NO,” because I cannot fathom how it is possible deserves a spot on this list.
  6. Famous Television Show Home Floor Plans
    Take this to an architect and you too can live like Monica and Rachel.
  7. Underlined Book Quotes Become Clever Illustrations
    These are beautiful!  I particularly like the drawing for “listen, there’s a hell of a good universe next door, let’s go.”
  8. Some Perfectly Timed Photos – Part II
    Hehehe.  It’s always fun to indulge in some low brow humor.
  9. Halloween Costume Ideas – 50 Pics
    Never hurts to plan ahead…especially if you’re going to create Princess Leia and R2-D2 costumes for little toddlers OMG!
  10. 10 Ways to Up Your Campfire Cooking Game
    Mmmmm!  Lamb Ribs in Balsamic Huckleberry BBQ Sauce?  Yes please!

The Giver: Book vs. Movie

Ithe-giver-first-look-jeff-bridges-brenton-thwaites recently reread The Giver and watched the movie for the first time.  It’s fairly obvious that the book is infinitely better than its film adaptation, but it was, I think, worth watching.

But first, what I didn’t like.

The movie moves too quickly, speeding through explanations and experiences where the book lingers.  The Community is hastily shown to us, whereas the book spends long chapters introducing us to their society, only slowly revealing how ominous their rules truly are.

The movie lacks a cohesive logic.  In the book, Jonas and the Giver are the only two people capable of deep emotion.  The actions and apathy of the other characters are seen as tragic and maddening, but we understand that without memories and emotions, they cannot help themselves.  They are little more than robots.

In the film, however, characters act on emotion when they have no ability to do so.  Lily looks sad at Gabe’s release, although in the book she happily agrees with her father that they did all they could for the child.  Asher hints at jealousy when Jonas and Fiona start pairing off, and later he saves Jonas’s life out of what can only be loyalty–an emotion he ought not to have.  And Fiona.  Ugh, Fiona.

the-giver-brenton-thwaites-babyI loved her in the book.  She (and Jonas’s father) are our most intimate windows into the tragedy of the Community.  Although Jonas’s feelings for her mature and grow passionate, hers remain simple and naive.  When Jonas rails against his father after learning the true meaning of “release,” he takes comfort in the fact that Fiona would never do such a thing.  That is, until the Giver tells him that she is already being trained to release people.  She stands in stark contrast to what we expect, allowing us to see the necessity of the memories Jonas is inheriting.  She’s a good person; we like her.  Yet because she does not have the empathy born of emotion, she will unwittingly do horrible things.

But in the movie, she fights alongside Jonas.  After mere hours of being without her injections against the “stirrings,” she accepts a kiss and soon helps him escape.  I understand that they are implying the power of love, but really?  It cheapens Jonas’s journey and the importance of a shared history.  If all it takes to buck the system is hormones coursing through their veins, a much simpler plan would be to get everyone to stop taking their injections for a day rather than attempting a dangerous escape.  Plus, it turns the whole story into a romance, and come on.  Don’t we have enough of those?  I liked the plot much better when it was a boy’s love for an infant that spurred him into action rather than a pretty girl.  Romantic love is an inspiration, but it is not the only emotion that encourages bravery and self-sacrifice.

enhanced-buzz-wide-10061-1405372530-18And the Chief Elder!  In her (admittedly brilliant) argument with the Giver at the end of the film, it seems like she has had just as much access to the memories as the Giver himself.  If so, what is the point of his station?  And again, this cheapens the tragedy of the book, where we see the elders deliberately avoiding any knowledge of the memories, wanting only the Giver’s advice out of context.

Whew.  Okay.  Apparently there were more things I disliked than I realized.  HOWEVER, I stand by my earlier statement that the movie is worth watching, and for one simple reason.  The memories.  The first time Jonas sees full color, transported to the view of a dramatic sunset on the ocean, waves turned red in the waning light, my eyes filled with tears.  The beauty was overwhelming after so much grey scale.  I was moved to emotion again when the Giver transferred memories of courage to Jonas, of people parachuting, riding rapids, protesting, standing firm in front of tanks.  And again at the end, when all the memories return to the people of the Community, and they see tornados, babies, concerts, lights, tears, running, praying, sunlight, death, pregnancy, and rain.

The movie is at its best when it takes on the role of Giver, filling our minds with memories and emotions, reminding us of the beauty, pain, and intensity that comes with being human.

The Giver:  Do you know what that’s like?  To love someone?  I do.  I’ve cried, felt sorrow.  Love, song, dance.  Felt real joy.
Chief Elder:  Then you should know better than anyone.  You have seen children starve.  You’ve seen people stand on each other’s necks, just for the view.  You know what it feels like when men blow each other up over a simple line in the sand.
The Giver:  Yes, I do, I do.
Chief Elder:  And yet–and yet!  You and Jonas want to open that door again, bring all that back.
The Giver:  If you could only see the possibility of love.  With love comes faith, comes hope!
Chief Elder:  Love is just passion that can turn.  It turns into contempt and murder.
The Giver:  We could choose better.
Chief Elder:  People are weak.  People are selfish.  When people have the freedom to choose, they choose wrong.  Every single time.
The Giver:  Loss, pain, music, joy–the raw, beautiful, impossible feeling of love.  We are living a life of shadows, of echoes, of faint distant whispers of what once made us real.

StumbleUpon Sunday (7)

StumbleUpon is a giant collection of the best pages on the Internet.

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. 16 Things I Know Are True But Haven’t Quite Learned Yet
    Great words of wisdom!  “All you need to do to finish things is keep starting them until they’re done.
  2. Rashad Alabarov Paints with Shadows and Light
    These are so incredible I almost can’t believe they’re real.
  3. 35 Tumblr Posts That’ll Make You Reevaluate Your Entire Existence
    Hahaha!  Great (idiotic) thought-provoking scenarios like:  “I won’t take a bullet for anyone because if I have to jump in front of a bullet, you have time to move.”
  4. 31 Places Everyone Should Visit Before They Die
    Wow!  Chittorgarh, India looks like a fantasy land!  *checks flight costs*  AND #27 is incredibly useful.
  5. A Photo Exploration of the Nomadic Culture in Mongolia
    Mongolia!  Probably my favorite place I’ve visited, in terms of uniqueness and beauty.
  6. Bookshelf Porn
    If I weren’t before, I’m now convinced that my future home must be wall-to-wall bookshelves.
  7. Funny Airplane Announcements
    “As you exit the plane, please make sure to gather all of your belongings. Anything left behind will be distributed evenly among the flight attendants. Please do not leave children or spouses.”
  8. Photos: What the Sky Should Look Like Without Light Pollution
    These are stunning.
  9. 10 Things You’ll See in Almost Every Tim Burton Film
    I love Tim Burton, and knowing he repeats himself does nothing to lessen my affection.
  10. 14 Amazing Psychology Facts Everyone Needs to Know
    Cool stuff!  I was especially intrigued by this one:  “Your decisions are more rational when thought in another language.”