08 May 2013

Religion and Philosophy

Forward: I wrote this a long time ago, and didn't publish because I hadn't reached that comfort level. I've been writing a lot of stuff since this about my growing faith and relationship with God, and I've decided it's time for me to take a step towards sharing a little bit of myself with the world. Not that anyone reads this, it's just the idea that somebody COULD, I guess, that has scared me. 

I don't understand how anyone can use the Bible as a message of hate. When I think of the messages I've gotten from the Bible, I think of how I must love more, be more tolerant, be more open-minded and let others see the love of God through me. Although I strongly believe everyone is entitled to their own interpretation, when I hear of how people have used their faith to condemn others, to persecute homosexuals, or to shut themselves off from people of differing beliefs, I kind of wonder if they're reading the same words as me.

My religious journey has been tough, because my path has been filled with these people from the very beginning. Imagine how you would view Christianity if its only representatives in your life were hypocrites who wore big giant crosses around their necks, but who bullied and harassed others for seeing things differently. I think my reluctance to pursue their ideology is understandable.

It wasn't until I moved to Tennessee that my perception began to change. While I met a decent share of the same fundamentalist, hate-filled, hypocrites I had known before,  I began to meet people who really made me wonder why I had disassociated myself with Christianity.

The first were my friends. I was attracted to this group of friends back in middle school because they seemed to see life in the same light that I did. They were smart, creative, and weren't afraid to be themselves. Our conversations were always intellectually stimulating and fascinating. But it wasn't until high school that we achieved the comfort level to really discuss our religious beliefs with each other. I was surprised to discover just how religious my friends were.

One of my music instructors also represented a drastic exception to my stereotype. I was initially uncomfortable with how he spoke so openly about his religious convictions.  But as I got to know him better, I found him to be quite an inspirational person. Never have I met anyone where such tolerance and religious enthusiasm have coexisted so peacefully in the same person.

I continued to meet people who defied my expectations. Ministers, Born-Agains, Mormons, and Bible-thumping Baptists who would turn out to be unbelievably loving, understanding, and genuine.

My mom started to talk more about religion, too. I think she had been turned off of religion in the same way I'd been. But when we moved, she started saying that she regretted not raising me with a stronger religious foundation. We had a lot of conversations about our spirituality and relationship with God, conversations that helped me find clarity, and define my own beliefs.

I have realized that I can't let haters and elementary school bullies determine what Christianity is for me. Christianity, or any other religion, is what you make of it. And the Bible, as well as church communities, ministers, youth groups, and mission trips, are all just tools to help each of us find our own path to God. Because there are many.

As for me, I have let those people who made me question myself shape my definition of what it means to be Christian.

28 December 2012

05 May 2012

Like many other girls, I resolve to be more beautiful. It is one of my greatest desires to be gorgeous. But I know I won't get there by trying to lose weight, buying better clothes, or changing my hair. I will get there by, one step at a time, learning to be a better human being.
I want to learn to be a better listener, and truly care what other people have to say. 
I want to learn to be more positive and loving, because the most beautiful people I know are the ones who always make the best of things, love life, are grateful, and who seem to constantly wear smiles on their faces. 
I want to learn to go with the flow, accept other people's opinions, be more open to other's ideas, less demanding of perfection, less defensive, and more proactive. To me, these are things that amount to a gorgeous person. 
I want to learn to appreciate the goodness in every single person, even the people I think are mean or irritating. I want to see beauty in the things that make other people different from me. 
I want to learn to think before I speak. Let my words not seek to attract attention to myself, but give what little bits of wisdom I might actually have away for other people to learn from. 
I don't think our society has a very good idea of what true beauty is. I'm not just talking about how our models are stick figures who make normal women feel insecure about their bodies. I'm talking about how the photo shoots in magazines always portray women who take themselves too seriously, and are rarely wearing smiles on their faces. These photo shoots make all our idols look alike, and they seem to be trying to prove that they all look great in underwear. I feel that they rarely capture what truly make these people beautiful. 
Just my thoughts. :D

Camp Inspiration Board



08 December 2011

Transcendentalism and Minimalism

We've been studying Transcendentalism in my AP English class, and I can't help but notice an abundance of similarities between Transcendentalism and Minimalism, a philosophy that has taken hold recently, and to which my mother is an adherent.
The idea of purging your earthly belongings in order to achieve a greater sense of satisfaction really speaks to me. I like the idea of being portable - not having too many things holding me to one place. Becoming Minimalist and Minimalist Woman are a two lovely minimalist blogs that I was introduced to by mom. 

Marimba


Misleading information


I read a post that I found quite inspirational on The Tomorrow Museum. She discusses the unreliability of essentially anything you can find on the internet. I found this interesting, because I've had a lot of experience with this recently, hearing the misinformation that people believe is true, because they're trusting the wrong sources, or because they accept what they hear without bothering to fact check. This issue especially concerns me when it comes to politics. The people of my generation are swayed so easily by what the rumors that come from the gossip mill, and this coupled with the fact that they're too lazy to actually verify anything, establishes a very dangerous precedent for when they become old enough to vote. I don't know how many people have told me, with complete sincerity, that they believe Obama shut down NASA, because rather than take the time to watch the readily available video, they elected to believe the false information they heard from their parents, other kids, or inaccurate, sensationalized news coverage.

Into The Wild

Something about this story speaks to me. Am I self-centered, foolish, and unrealistic if I have the same youthful desire to take the words of my favorite authors and philosophers and put them into action? If I have an overwhelming desire to rid myself of my modern, cookie cutter life style, full of material conveniences, and 21st century assurances. What if I want to live ballsy, and see where life takes me when I have nothing to my name, no diplomas or other such pieces of paper assuring my abilities? 
“make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things which you may previously never have thought of doing, or been too hesitant to attempt. So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservation, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man's living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. If you want to get more out of life, you must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life that will at first appear to you to be crazy. But once you become accustomed to such a life you will see its full meaning and its incredible beauty.” 

There are a lot of things in my life that we force ourselves to be "conditioned to" because they guarantee security, conformity, and conservation. For instance, school. Don't get me wrong; I wholeheartedly believe that education is a necessity in every individual's life. I also believe that, especially in a democratic nation, every citizen has a responsibility to educate themselves. And I also know that in order to achieve that reality, it is necessary for the government to regulate and require it. 
But that doesn't mean I have to like it. I really believe that life is the best teacher and would love to learn out of curiosity. Ultimately, though, what I took from this book was a desire to live life to its fullest and take every opportunity for adventure. 

01 August 2011

London

Spent a couple of weeks in London and I have to say, they were two of the most memorable weeks of my life thus far. It's my favorite place in the world. There are so many architecturally cool buildings, everything looks like it's out of Harry Potter. I love pubs. Best places ever. Also, English Breakfast tea. That stuff is the bomb.

They have really good shopping, too. First of all, they have places like Topshop and H&M, which exist in America, but only seldom few.  They also have this place called Primark, which has REALLY affordable, cute clothes (and DOESN'T use forced/child labor. I have no idea how they manage to manufacture clothes so cheap. It's beyond me.) They also have the best flea markets in the world. There's a couple really big, famous ones, like Camden Market, which we went to and is awesome (an entire stall chalk full of vintage suitcases. I was in heaven), and then there are smaller antique markets in big shopping areas like Covent garden, where you can still find really unique stuff, but it's not totally crazy. 


The music is wonderful. I didn't go see any of the well-known artists that were playing there, like Arcade Fire and The Foo Fighters and Alicia Keys, and I still saw some really impressive music. We just went to free concerts at the Meltdown music Festival at the Southbank centre, and were totally impressed. I fell in love with The Caezars, an upbeat, rockabilly-type band, and a couple other indie bands. I also went to go see Wine, Women, and Song (a.k.a Matraca Berg, Suzy Bogguss, and Gretchen Peters), who are actually from Nashville. Matraca just came out with a new album, The Dreaming Fields, and it is stupid how good it is. 

The people are really nice, too. And fascinating. When you're in London, you don't have that feeling that you do when you're in other big cities like New York, where everyone is really rude to each other, and you constantly feel unsafe like everyone is trying to take advantage of you because you're a tourist. Everyone's really helpful and nice. Also, there are these bicycles for hire all over the city, called Barclay's. They would probably be gone in a day if you put them in New York. But not in London. People actually use them, too. There are people on bicycles everywhere, on the streets, and riding through the parks. I think London is the only place where you can live in a massive city, and take advantage of everything that that entails, and still get to experience beauty and nature and kind strangers on a daily basis. There are beautiful courtyards and gardens and parks all over the city. In a couple of the public parks, there are these free standing lawn chairs all over the place, and if you happen to come across a day over 65 degrees, EVERY ONE OF THEM is occupied, and there are people sprawled across the grass, including men in business suits. It's SO COOL. 




27 May 2011

I love

Some things that just make me think of my town, and which I adore













13 May 2011

Sophomor-itis?

I didn't wake up this morning until I had silenced Taylor Swift's teeny bopper beets at least five times. I then proceeded to take an hour to come up with an outfit that indicates absolutely no level of creativity. I can't remember what I ate for breakfast or, now that I think of it, what I ate for lunch or what I did in basically any of my classes except French, because we're reading Les Miserables in French, and it makes my nerdy senses tingle. Oh, and history, because we're watching Saving Private Ryan, which I hate, because I don't like seeing blood or violence or watching anything that doesn't have music or dancing. Or at least a prominent female character.
So, Basically, I'm brain dead. And I just wanted it to be
Summer

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

I originally picked up this novel hoping to be swept away by the refined, antiquated language of Edith Wharton and the 1920s New York setting. I was NOT disappointed. The Club Box at the New York Opera, The Beaufort's ballroom, high-society dinner parties, archery competitions, Skuytercliff, fifth avenue, UGH. It was wonderful. But the contrast between the antiquated morality displayed by the characters in this novel and the morals we accept in modern society was striking, which really spoke to me. Although as a female, I love living in this day and age because of all the opportunities and freedoms that exist for me that didn't in Edith Wharton's time, I can't say I don't have a respect for the values that we've lost since then.

Wrock

Wizard rock (a.k.a Wrock) is a genre of music entirely dedicated to music about the Harry Potter series. In other words, it is the best thing to ever exist on Earth. I went to a concert the other night with a friend and we got our "nerd swagger" on. Just sayin'

07 May 2011