Tag Archives: Christianity

Lit Life: Labor of Love & I Kissed Dating Goodbye

17 Aug

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As I mentioned yesterday in my Citrus Coconut Drinks post, my alumnae book club recently discussed Moira Weigel‘s Labor of Love: The Invention of Dating. I’ve been a member of the book club for many years now, and I love the intellectual banter that arises for the wide variety of books we choose. We’ve read classics like J. D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye (see my book club theme party pics here) and we’ve read feminist texts such as Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In

As graduates of a women’s college — Scripps College in Claremont, California — we enjoy discussing womanhood, gender, and feminism. We talk a lot about our lives. We talk about what’s going on at campus. And we talk about politics. Through the course of a recent catch-up session, we began talking about dating, marriage, and motherhood. Our members span a thirty or forty year age range, with some people in their twenties and others retired. Some got married right out of college and juggle career and babies. Others have not gotten married and wonder about fertility and whether they will quit their jobs — their careers — if they have children.

There had recently been an article about Moira Weigel’s book in The New Yorker that discussed the complexities of dating. It addressed dating not as a self-help book might but in terms of its history and through a feminist lens. We decided to read it and see what we thought.

Through the course of our book club discussion, we discussed: Who pays? Is “going steady” and serial monogamy ruining chances for marriage? Why did some generations go out with a different person every weekend and think of dating more casually while today’s generation is more likely to be in committed relationships? Does this have to do with premarital sex? Slut shaming? Why is the biological clock something only women have to worry about? What happens to men’s sperm as they age? Is marriage warped by consumerism the same as dating is?

Here’s an excerpt from Weigel’s Labor of Love:

At a time of dramatic social and economic change, the ways the biological clock was talked about reinforced old ideas about gender difference. Indeed, it exaggerated them, creating a sense that male and female partners were even more different than traditionalists of the 1950s had imagined. More and more women were breaking into the previously male world of well paid work. Nonetheless, conversations about the biological clock suggested that reproduction was an exclusively female concern.

Labor of Love: The Invention of Dating and our discussion of it was fascinating and eye opening. In explaining dating’s history, Weigel talks about how men and women met and married through social events in a family home. There were no flowers. No emoji eggplants. No candlelit dinners at fancy restaurants. It was courtship. Dating began when people moved outside the home. The gender wage gap meant that women couldn’t afford their own meals out, so they had to rely on dates to pay for them. Women were sometimes accused by police of being prostitutes just because they accepted free meals from men! This then set up a power dynamic in that women had to rely on men if they wanted to go out and men were never sure if women liked them or just wanted a free meal. Not much has changed today. Women typically can pay their own way now, but there’s a lot of confusion about what chivalry is, what a date should consist of, what one should look for in their partner, and how to go from a monogamous relationship to a married relationship while still young enough to have children — if one so desires.

What’s interesting is that about the same time that Weigel’s book came out talking about how dating put women at a disadvantage, Joshua Harris has been in the news for taking a step back from his influential 1997 book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye. Harris, a conservative Evangelical Christian, preached that instead of contemporary dating, singles should practice “courtship.” You might be familiar with that term from the Duggars, of 19 Kids and Counting fame, who are known for their strict rules against even hand-holding. Harris recently told NPR:

But I think one of the things that I’m changing in my own thinking is I just think people – myself included – it’s so easy to latch on to a formula. You know, you do these things and you’ll be great. You’ll be safe and you’ll be protected and you’ll be whatever.

And I just don’t think that’s the way life works. I don’t think that’s the way the life of faith works. And so when we try to overly control our own lives or overly control other people’s lives, I think we end up harming people. And I’m – I think that that’s part of the problem with my book.

It was interesting listening to discussions of both Moira Weigel’s book Labor of Love: The Invention of Dating and Joshua Harris’ book I Kissed Dating Goodbye: A New Attitude Toward Romance and Relationships around the same time. Their perspectives come from such vastly different vantage points, and yet both are critiquing the contemporary dating scene and discussing the idea of courtship. It seems that in the end, when it comes to dating today, men and women need to be upfront about their expectations and desires. Maybe this will scare some people off, but maybe it’s better to know that upfront anyway. Maybe there’s no formula for how relationships work. Maybe each person and each couple has to actually communicate and find out what works best for them.

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Fall Semester of the Redeemer Writers Group Announced

10 Sep

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Along with two other very talented writers and editors, Maurice and Nana, I will once again be hosting the Redeemer Writers Group after our summer hiatus. The dates for our fall “semester” have now been finalized:

 

September 22, 2014. 7-9pm.

October 20, 2014. 7-9pm.

November 17, 2014. 7-9pm.
The writing workshops are completely free and open to anyone interested. Please bring a one- to two-page work of your own writing in any genre that you would like critiqued to share with the group. We are a Christian-based group open to writers of all skill levels and genres. The writing workshop will be held at the Redeemer Offices, 1359 Broadway, 4th Floor, Main Conference Room. NYC.

This Year, Our Calendars Unite!

25 Feb

“Are you in a cult?” my friend once asked me.

My friend and I led a Protestant ministry for young adults, and I had mentioned that I actually celebrate Easter on a different day than most Protestants. Growing up, I had always celebrated Easter at the Greek Orthodox Church. Granted it was the only time of year my family went to the Greek Church (we went to a Protestant church the rest of the year), but we were pretty adamant about that being Easter.

No, I’m not in a cult, I sighed, aggravated that she would think that. In fact, there’s much more tradition and practical reason for celebrating Easter when I do.

The Greek Orthodox Church follows the old calendar system, the Julian calendar. Protestant and Catholics later decided to follow the new Gregorian calendar. What this means, though, is that sometimes Protestants and Catholics celebrate Easter before Jewish observers celebrate Passover. And if you know anything about these religions at all, you know that that doesn’t actually make a lot of sense since Jesus’ Last Supper is suggested to be a Passover meal.

This year, however, our calendars happen to coincide!

…I guess that means no discounted Easter candy for me this year.

Resources:

  • For a very thorough explanation on the calendar differences by an esteemed authority, I recommend this article by Dr. Lewis J. Patsavos.
  • For a more conversational approach yet also thorough, I recommend “A Tale of Two Easters” by Borgna Brunner.

Recap from My Reading at Jason Harrod’s Album Launch

2 Oct

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Do you mind if I tell you about my reading with Jason Harrod, even though it happened a few weeks ago? I know it’s waaaaay overdue but I still want to share it with you because it was a fun event and I was happy to see some of you there.

So I get to Space 38|39 a bit early and, as any bibliophile would do, I spend my time browsing the bookshelves. And look what I spy on the shelves! Do you see it? The original scroll version of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road! Providence, right?!

I actually read the same passage from the book I coauthored with Paul Maher Jr., Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road,” as the one I read with David Amram. Someone recorded it so I may have video in the future to show you from the reading, but in the meantime you can see me reading it with Amram here. I selected this particular passage because Jason had asked me to read something about wrestling with God, and here Paul and I tell about when Kerouac felt God wanted to have a few words with him and paid penance for watching a bullfight. It’s actually a pretty gruesome passage, so I always feel awkward reading it, but I think it’s an important passage. It speaks a lot to the way we try to reconcile our actions to God, and it demonstrates Kerouac’s softer, sensitive side.

I was invited to read a second piece and chose an old personal essay I had written. Jason joked with the audience that most of his songs were about God, girls, and the road, and it fit in perfectly with my writing. My first piece was about Kerouac’s road trip, but my second one was about my own road trip, where I met a woman who talked to me about God. The essay I read was called “Man Cannot Live on Bread Alone,” and it’s an early piece that Burnside Writers Collective published. You can read it here.

I made Jason play guitar as I read, and it was beautiful. I love collaborating with other people, and he’s a super talented musician. You can get Jason Harrod’s new album, Highliner, here.

Paul and Bets also performed, and they were so adorable. They’re this amazingly good-looking couple that look like they should be on TV, and they sang songs that transported us from the grime of New York City to the quaintness of the South. And you guys! They whistled! Oh it was too hipster cute.

Anyway, after the show this woman comes up to me, and starts saying her name and how I may not remember her but…. And I was like of course I remember you! It was a woman I used to work with and whom I actually met with on a regular basis right before the publishing division at the company shut down. She and another woman had been a  blessing on my life in dealing with work and life and the transition with the company, but whom over the course of the past few years I had lost contact with. It was such a surprise and so nice to see her. She had no idea when she came to Jason’s album release that I would even be there, so we were both surprised!

Anyway, New York City is a small world full of wonder. It was a great honor to get to read at Jason’s album release party and to have so many friends show up to support it and to run into a few I wasn’t even expecting to see!

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Burning Furiously Beautiful is now available as an ebook! You can download your copy here.

Blessing of the Waters

6 Jan

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This past year, we’ve seen the power of water when Hurricane Sandy hit, devastating homes, businesses, and even lives. And yet water remains critical to our existence:

  • About 57% of our body weight is water.
  • Approximately 88% of 1.8 million deaths a year is attributed to unsafe water supplies and sanitation and hygiene issues. Most of these deaths are in children.
  • Water covers about 70% of our planet.
  • Africans spend 40 billion hours just walking to get water every year. It is usually women and children who have the responsibility of fetching water, and this arduous task keeps them away from school.

Water is a dichotomy of life and death.

I once saw a priest in Brooklyn throw a cross into the muddy waters of the Hudson.  It was a frigid January day, yet a bunch of boys jumped into the river to save the cross.

What would possess a priest to throw a cross into the river?

Theophany; or, as most westerners call it, Epiphany.

The word “Theophany” comes from the Greek “τα Θεοφάνια,” which means “appearance of God,” and January 6 is the feast day that commemorates the incarnation of Jesus.  It celebrates His birth and baptism.

When St. John the Baptist baptized Jesus in the Jordan River, the heavens opened up and the Holy Spirit descended like a dove.  God spoke from the heavens, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (Matt 3:17, NIV).  It marked one of the very few times that all three characters of the Trinity—Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and God—revealed themselves at the same time to man.

Jesus’ baptism marks His first step toward Crucifixion, according to Orthodox theology.

And so, on January 6, Orthodox priests throughout the world throw crosses, symbolic of Jesus’ crucifixion, into bodies of water, symbolic of His baptism.  This is called the Blessing of the Waters.  Volunteers jump into the water to retrieve the cross.  The priest, according to tradition, prays a blessing on the person who gets to the cross first and brings it back to him.

Here’s the Troparion (tone 4) from the Eve and Afterfeast hymn, which has some powerful imagery:

The River Jordan receded of old by the mantle of Elisha when Elijah ascended into heaven; and the water was separated to this side and that, the wet element turning into a dry path for Him, being truly a symbol of Baptism, by which we cross the path of transient age. Christ appeared in the Jordan to sanctify its waters.

Parts of this post were first published on my blog in 2011 and 2012.

Christian New Year’s Resolutions

2 Jan

I’m tempted to write a satire called Christian New Year’s Resolutions.  It would go something like this:

  1. Pray without ceasing.  Ever.
  2. Don’t watch secular television.
  3. Become a physically fit Proverbs 31 woman.
  4. Read the bible every day and nothing besides it.
  5. Go to church every Sunday.

Is there such a thing as Christian New Year’s Resolutions?

You can read the rest of my article here.

Election 2012: Church of the Presidents

2 Nov

As we gear up to Election Day 2012, one of the main considerations voters have is: how do the candidates’ religious beliefs influence their leadership?  Do their economic plans care for the widows and orphans?  Will extending money to those in need unfairly take away the rights of others to the money they worked hard for?  Do their healthcare plans help all people?  What do family values really mean?  Do they look out for the poor in spirit, the disenfranchised?  Do they protect all people’s rights?  Do they try to play the role of God?  Does their faith make them weak?  Do their beliefs do more good or more harm to the country?  How should we vote when it seems that upholding one of our values leads to hindering one of our other values?

A few years ago, I visited what’s become known as The Church of the Presidents.  St. John’s Church Lafayette Square has had every president of the United States come through its doors since its first service in October 1816 was held.  You can read about it in my Church Hopping column on Burnside Writers Collective.

Clip: In the Bathtub with a Jazz Musician and a Beat Poet

29 Jun


 

Burnside posted an essay of mine called “In the Bathtub with a Jazz Musician and a Beat Poet.”  It’s a true story.

Remembering Philips Lamantia

7 Mar

Beat poet Philip Lamantia passed away on this day 2005.  He read at the famous Six Gallery reading in San Francisco in which Allen Ginsberg debuted Howl.  Instead of reading his own poetry, though, Lamantia read poems by his friend John Hoffman, who had recently passed away.  His own poems were erotic, surrealist, Catholic.

You can read the last interview Lamantia ever gave here (it was with Garrett Caples) and the original obituary that ran in The New York Times.

 

BWC Headed to FFW FTW (That’s an Inside Joke)

23 Jan

Burnside Writers Collective is headed back to the Festival of Faith and Writing!

Our lovely associate editor Kim Gottschild posted all about it on Burnside, highlighting why you should go:

  • Attend a writing workshop led by our very own Arts Editor, Stephanie Nikolopoulos!
  • Hear our very own Susan Isaacs, author of Angry Conversations with God, speak!
  • Meet our Deputy Editor, John Pattison, who will be there hosting a breakout session on book reviewing with ERB Editor-in-Chief, Chris Smith!
  • Hear plenary speaker, author Jonathan Safran Foer and watch BWC Editor-in-Chief Jordan Green become his best friend!  JK.
  • Meet other fantastic Burnsiders like Social Justice Editor Penny Carothers, Diane Nienhuis, Associate Editor Sara Sterley, Betsy Zabel, and me!
  • Pick up some swag, like a bookmark or something!

So sweet of her to mention me by name. Check back on this blog soon for more information on my workshop.

I truly love working with Burnside and getting to meet all the people I work with but don’t usually get to see.  I have the privilege of working with some of the most talented and funny and sincere people.  I had such a blast with them last time.

It’s also really fun meeting readers.  Hope you’ll consider joining us!  Drop me a line in the comments if you plan on being there and make sure to stop by our table to say hi!

As if meeting the Burnside staff isn’t enough, Ruben Martinez, Gary Schmidt, Marilynne Robinson, Kathryn Erskine, Shane Claiborne, and many more award-winning, high-profile authors will be there.